AN “unreserved apology” has been given to people objecting to plans to restrict disabled parking in Kirkcaldy’s High Street for the “awkward wording” of a letter which suggested disabled people could shop throughout the night.
Responding to allegations about letters sent out to all those objecting to changes proposed for the Traffic Regulation Order governing traffic movement on the High Street, Dr Bob McLellan, head of Fife Council’s transportation department, agreed that the correspondence could have been better worded.
Campaigners against the proposals to ban traffic from the pedestrianised area from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily slammed Fife Council officials for being “patronising” after receiving letters which implied that disabled people could do their shopping any time between 5.00 p.m. and 10.00 a.m. ... when the shops are shut!
Only a handful are open beyond 5.30 p.m.
They claimed the letters were designed to persuade people to change their minds and withdraw objections.
However Dr McLellan has reviewed the correspondence and admitted ‘‘Whilst I am satisfied that there was no intention to mislead the public the wording in parts was indeed awkward.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the proposal is to allow access to blue badge holders between 9.00 am and 10.00 am for shopping purposes and also between 5.00 p.m. and 9.00 a.m. for general access to the High Street.”
Dysart resident Bill Mair, who sent in a letter of objection, was disconcerted when he received a reply from transportation services stating: “I can confirm that there are no proposals to restrict vehicles to only one hour of access from 9.00 a.m. until 10.00 a.m. The zone will be open to blue badge holders’ vehicles, service and delivery vehicles and residents from 5.00 p.m. until 10.00 a.m.”
Mr Mair said: “I was at first gobsmacked when I read this: it rather smacked of Marie Antoinette disingenuously recommending that starving peasants eat cake if they had no bread.
‘‘They are telling me I mustn’t complain, as blue badge holders have unlimited access to the shops overnight, when they are closed!”
Thinking the was “some sort of mistake”, Mr Mair phoned the official who had sent out the correspondence.
“However, when I spoke to him, he stood by every word and actually said to me that Blue Badge holders had 17 hours of access to the High Street.
‘‘I explained that only 1 hour was of any use to shoppers, as the shops close around 5.00 p.m., but he was pretty flippant about it.
“Fife Council seems to be stuck in the days of 18th Century France. I don’t know if we need to storm Fife House, but the Council certainly needs to revolutionise its ideas.”