THE controversial parking ban came a step closer this week.
A public notice detailing Fife Council’s plans to amend traffic regulation orders for the pedestrianised area of Kirkcaldy High Street is published in this week’s Press - the latest stage of the process to banning vehicles for all but one hour.
Fifers now have three weeks to lodge objections - the deadline is April 20.
Protestors against the changes were due to meet yesterday (Wednesday) to form a group ‘Access for All’ to discuss the way forward.
It came out of last week’s demonstration outside Kirkcaldy Town House before the Kirkcaldy Area Committee meeting as campaigners agreed to meet to form a new group to discuss future plans.
Maureen Closs of the Campaign Against Cuts and Charges, who was part of the demonstration, said: “We were led to believe at the demonstration that councillors would be willing to make some changes to the restricted hours.
‘‘We are disappointed that they have gone ahead with this public notice.
“If they were serious about some sort of compromise it would have been better to delay this until discussions had taken place on a solution which was acceptable to everyone.
“We are still hopeful that this can be reached.’’
Margaret Dumbreck from Dysart, who also attended the demonstration, said she had written to the head of the Council’s social work department and the head of adult services to ask whether their departments had been consulted.
“The views of the people caring for people with disabilities should have been taken into consideration when this decision was made, I don’t believe they were,” she explained.
SHOPPERS with mobility issues are being urged to make use of the help available to them.
Shopmobility, Ring and Ride and Dial-a-Ride are all being promoted as possible alternatives to taking the car to go shopping.
But disability campaigners say the service won’t be able to cope if large numbers want to use them at the one time.
The Council is encouraging people to consider trying the alternatives - and it is also looking into securing a unit in The Mercat for Shopmobility.
It provides free loans of mobility scooters and electric and manual wheelchairs to enable people with mobility difficulties to get around. Users don’t have to be Blue Badge holders or registered disabled - they can make use of the service if they have suffered an injury or require help for a temporary period.
Wheelchairs and scooters can be borrowed for a couple of hours to do some shopping or overnight to allow them to make a trip in the evening. They can even be loaned for up to a month.
However campaigners against the cut in hours for parkin have raised a number of concerns including lack of staff to allow customers to be met at Kirkcaldy bus station; an answering machine service when they call to book and staff unable to cope with large numbers at one time.
“I called on one occasion to say I would be arriving by bus and asked if I could pick up a scooter there, but was told that there were not enough staff on to allow that to happen,” said one woman. “I couldn’t walk from the bus station to the Shopmobility office.”
Shopmobility Kirkcaldy has 12 electric scooters, six electric wheelchairs and 19 manual wheelchairs. To find out more about the services, including companion shopping and sighted guides, visit www.fifeshopmobility.com or call 0844 335 6414 to make a booking.
Shopmobility Kirkcaldy is also linked with Fife Council’s free Dial-a-Ride and Ring & Ride Services, which take people who can’t access regular public transport from their homes directly to the Shopmobility office or other town centre locations. To find out more or to book a trip call 08451 551188 (Mon-Fri, 9.00 a.m.-3.30 p.m.)
>> My verdict
Ann Coit, Aberdour.
I heard about Shopmobility about three years ago when I was struggling to get around n crutches after an operation on my back. The first time I used the service the staff gave me a lesson in the car park to make sure I was comfortable, but the scooters only go at two miles an hour so it was very easy.
My husband used to have to bring me into town in my wheelchair every week, but thanks to Shopmobility I now have the freedom to get out by myself, which is really important for both of us.
The staff are excellent, very friendly, and the equipment is always well maintained, too. I would definitely encourage other people to make use of the service.
Phyllis McIntyre, Manager of Fife Shopmobility, said: “We have many regular customers who we welcome back every week, but we always look forward to meeting people for the first time and seeing how much they’ve enjoyed the freedom this service gives them. We encourage people wishing to use any of our services to book in advance.”