Kirkcaldy West End: Traders concerns as refurbishment work swings into action

Roadworks at the west end of Kirkcaldy High Street January 2016
Roadworks at the west end of Kirkcaldy High Street January 2016

Fife Council and retailers in the west end of Kirkcaldy High Street have been urged to work together to minimise the impact on businesses while major refurbishments are taking place.

Traders have reported a drop in takings as the third and final phase of the town centre redevelopment gets underway.

A car driving the wrong way along Kirkcaldy High Street's west end during roadworks.

A car driving the wrong way along Kirkcaldy High Street's west end during roadworks.

They blame the loss of car parking spaces and the current barrier running from Nicol Street to the Sports Direct shop for a significant drop in footfall.

Now Kirkcaldy4All, the BID company, has urged folk to keep shopping at the west end - and traders and the local authority to work together to minimise the impact the upheaval will have,

Bill Harvey, BID manager, said he accepted the work meant disruption on their doorsteps, as it did during the first two phases at the east end and the pedestrianised zone.

He added:“Undoubtedly we have to recognise that this refurbishment does affect business and that people may be put off by the works and signs saying that the road is closed, but I would appeal to members of the public to continue to support that end of the High Street, use the shops that you would normally use; buy your newspapers and your rolls and go for your coffee.”

“Support it just now through what is going to be a difficult time.

“We will continue to liaise with the council, and the contractors carrying out the works will be sympathetic to the businesses whenever they can and will help them to get through this difficult trading period.”

There are two council officials on site at all times - and businesses are urged to speak to them with any concerns as the project gets underway.

Mr Harvey added: “We’ll continue to help those businesses and try to be collaborative. We’re getting some banners made and will support them through our social media campaign.

“Hopefully by the end of this project in July that end of the High Street will look good, will look attractive and will bring more people to that area and that will be the completion.”

In the west end, traders remain concerned at the disruption with worries over parking issues - but their hopes of a walkway through the cordoned off areas appear to have been dashed.

Willie Hodge, owner of Rugs and Runners, called the current traffic situation is a “nightmare”, particularly at the weekends and says it’s only a matter of time before there is an accident.

“On Saturday there were at least six drivers who turned onto the High Street and went the wrong way. It’s also a nightmare for pedestrians trying to cross as cars are trying reverse in behind the fence at weekends.

“All that we’ve asked for is a walkway, even just on a Saturday and Sunday. That would help bring more customers in and it would be safer for pedestrians, but we get told no.”

Paula Napier, transportation’s acting lead professional for key projects said a walkway couldn’t be put in place yet due to the nature of the work.

“We are currently working on the new drainage and parking areas in the road only,” she said.

“It hasn’t been possible to open a walkway across the road in the area we are working in at the moment as we have been undertaking deep excavation works for new drainage and the new car parking bays.”

“It wouldn’t be safe to allow pedestrians through a work site but as areas become safe and passable we will re-open them.

“The controlled pedestrian crossings at the Charlotte Street junction are still functioning as normal and the footpath outside B&M from the Nicol Street carpark is unaffected and still open for use as normal.”

Ms Napier said that the council would continue to stay in close contact with traders.

“We held a drop-in session at the Kirkcaldy4All offices on Monday for traders to find out more information on the programme of works.

“One business owner attended but their concerns related to parking issues with other traders rather than these roadworks.

“We’ve also liaised with Kirkcaldy Taxi Association and have agreed that at night time we will open the traffic cones outside O’Connells to provide a taxi rank.

‘‘We need to leave the cones out during the day as this is the route for construction traffic.”

She added: “We’ve let traders know that if there’s more we can do to help we will, but the safety of the public and workforce has to come first.”