Kirkcaldy councillor challenges M&S to do right by the town

Kirkcaldy councillor Ian Cameron.
Kirkcaldy councillor Ian Cameron.

Marks & Spencer has been challenged to put its closure plans on hold and work with the town on what happens next.

Councillor Ian Cameron wants the retail giant to repay the loyalty shown by its customers in Kirkcaldy by giving a commitment it will help turn the store round for future use.

He said M&S could not simply walk away with a “so long and thanks for the custom.”

Cllr Cameron called on M&S bosses to delay the closure date and work with politicians and economic leaders.

He said: “I would like to see this prominent store broken up into a branded leisure/retail facility with a strong design identity.

“I would also like M&S to make that investment and subsidise the rent for new businesses to the area at the site for a period of five years – M&S management could work with Business Gateway to encourage a strong digital presence and brand for those small organisations.

“This would help make Kirkcaldy High Street better prepared for the future as retail changes.”

Cllr Cameron said M&S had “consistently” confirmed its commitment to the High Street up until last week’s shock closure announcement.

It is understood the retail giant owns the store.

He said: “Overnight that position seems to have changed but of course that is not the case, the closure of Kirkcaldy High Street would probably have been considered as far back as November 2016 when an overhaul of the home and clothing business was announced.”

He believes the company can leave a legacy in return for 80 years of custom – “to leave the High Street in as good a place as is reasonably possible, but not its ‘so long and thanks for the custom’.”

Cllr Cameron has been liaising with politicians, officers and Kirkcaldy 4All to get “the best possible result for the High Street.”

He is also looking for further resources to support the work done through the Local Tourism Association to bring more people to Kirkcaldy.

He welcomed the enterprise hub being planned by Adam Smith Global Foundation for the east end of the High Street, hailing it “a strong model for taking us forward.”

“I will ensure that we continue to lobby the Scottish Government to allow us flexibility in setting our NDR (non domestic rates) without having to cut essential budgets to do so,” he added.

“Parking charges are currently under review and a report is expected shortly.”