Debenhams’ Kirkcaldy closure new prompts calls for ‘urgent action’

Debenhams in Kirkcaldy High Street
Debenhams in Kirkcaldy High Street

The news of Debenhams’ departure has led to a call for an “urgent” assessment of the issues facing Kirkcaldy town centre.

Lesley Laird MP for the town and Cowdenbeath, wants property owners to work with Fife Council as part of the Kirkcaldy Placemaking pilot project.

She said: “If the placemaking project is to succeed it will require collective and dedicated resources of both people and money to make it happen - not just from the Council but also the private sector.

“There are large sections of the town centre that are in private ownership.

“If any meaningful plan is to be developed it will require both the Council and these other property owners to come together to work in a

cohesive way for the benefit of the community - otherwise, it will be very difficult to implement any effective plan and we will end up with a fragmented and piecemeal approach.”

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“We cannot sit back and allow further decline which in turn will simply impacts on existing businesses that are doing well.”

The issue of parking also has to be addressed, she said, but in tandem with how to make use of the large empty shops and change the make-up of the town centre.

“The focus now must be on how best to use the space, how to increase footfall by other means such as housing, leisure, culture and tourism, and how best to consolidate the current retail offering in a cohesive and attractive way,” she added.

Ms Laird said the £4.3m pot of funding from the Scottish Government for Fife town centres was welcome, but she wanted the UK Government to make a similar commitment.

It has its own town fund which hasn’t come north of the border, and she has raised the issue with David Mundelll, Scottish Secretary of State.