Is it time for free parking in our town centre?

Should parking be free?
Should parking be free?

Councillors in Kirkcaldy have pledged to continue supporting the High Street despite scrapping a town centre discount parking scheme.

Members of Kirkcaldy Area Committee rubber-stamped a recommendation to discontinue the initiative when it ends on March 31.

The scheme, which launched in 2015, saw Fifers offered discount season tickets and two hours of parking for £1 in a bid to encourage more people into the town centre.

But while it enjoyed positive support, a report before councillors on Tuesday revealed the increase in numbers hadn’t been sustained.

The initiative was rolled out in a bid to halt the decline of the High Street but after hearing the discount parking charges had not proven to be cost-effective, councillors agreed that a new strategy had to be drawn up with Fife Council transportation officials to find other ways of boosting footfall numbers.


OPINION: Free parking in Kirkcaldy - do it, do it now

The decision to end discount parking charges for our town centre is disappointing. The whole project feels like a missed opportunity. It ends with a bit of a whimper.

So, where does our town centre go from here?

Click here to read more >>>>>>


Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman, suggested creating a special task force to combat the decline while other members mooted the idea of adopting a ‘Glenrothes Model’ which would offer free parking in Kirkcaldy town centre for the first three hours.

Councillor Rod Cavanagh said members were being asked to approve funding of £29,000 to continue the scheme until the end of the financial year –, but questioned what would happen after that.

He said: “Are we simply going back to the status quo or are we going to perhaps consider the model used in Glenrothes to see if that could be an option?

“There is no doubt in my mind the question of parking is key to encouraging footfall into the town centre.”

Councillor David Ross said free parking for a limited period is an option that should be considered going forward.

“If you look at Glenrothes and Levenmouth both have some form of free parking in the town centre. While Kirkcaldy has free parking, it is very peripheral.

“We should look at what they have in Glenrothes and have parking free for three hours – this might be the way to go.”

He added: “We recognise there are economic pressures in Kirkcaldy and we need to continue the dialogue with transportation services for a future car parking strategy.

“We need to come up with the best solution for car parking in the town centre.”

Councillor Crooks said a special task force could also be considered.

“People recognise the pressures on Kirkcaldy’s High Street and we need to share that concern across Fife Council,” he said. “We can’t sustain the investment we have been making for the past two and a half years.

“There needs to be some sort of investment and support for Kirkcaldy town centre because of the special circumstances we face.

“We lost Tesco followed by BHS followed by Next – this is a huge impact.

“If you think of the task force that was formed by the Scottish Government in response to the closure of Tullis Russell , this is a similar situation – not on the same scale, but it is a similar effect it is having.”

He added: “Trading conditions on our High Street are getting more and more difficult, so it is the right thing to do to continue the dialogue with transportation.”

Bill Harvey, manager of Business Improvement District Kirkcaldy4All, said he was disappointed it was not going to continue.

He said: “There needs to be fairness for parking across Fife.

“Kirkcaldy is paying more than its fair share for car parking so it’s great to hear the committee is looking at other options.

“Having an out of town retail park is a real problem for us in the town centre – all the shops which were in the High Street, with the exception of B&Q, are now there.

“But there are still a lot of positives – we have small independent shops moving in and we are looking forward to positive news for the town with the cinema development and the waterfront becoming more user friendly.”