LONG-standing Lib Dem councillor Alice Soper believes the party’s manifesto sets out a promising future for Kirkcaldy and Fife overall.
Standing in Kirkcaldy Central, Cllr Soper is well aware of the issues surrounding the town centre, and the problems with access and parking.
“We definitely need a review of the car parking in Kirkcaldy,” she said. “We have data that shows there are complete inconsistencies all across the town centre. There are different time limits and different charges from one car park to the next.
“What I would like to see is perhaps reduced charges on the car parks on the periphery of the town centre and the east and west ends, then those using them would walk past all the shops at those ends. It would help businesses and encourage people to come in to the town centre.”
Once there, they will see many empty shops - another key issue
“We have long-standing vacant shops, which have been empty way before any recession occurred,’’ she said.
“Absent owners are allowing them just to sit and deteriorate. Stopping any rates relief for empty buildings should be introduced. There has to be some sort of intervention at a certain time.”
The councillor is also involved in the current dispute of access for disabled drivers on the High Street and is keen to get the matter resolved.
She said: “Emphatically there has been no final decision as yet. We made it quite clear that this is the time for consultation and we have had some interesting points put to us.
“Ultimately there’s going to be a mix of those in favour of a ban and those against it, but hopefully there will be a compromise reached that suits everybody.
‘‘We don’t want to ban people - but everybody needs to be safe on the High Street, able-bodied or otherwise.
“We need better premises for Shopmobility and perhaps a trial period for different delivery and disabled times would be worth a try. The view from across the area committee is that we need to come up with something better than the current state of affairs, but we do have an issue with it.”
One of the points in the Lib Dem manifesto is to devolve power back to the community, which the councillor is extremely passionate about.
“I want to see regular forums that we can contact all the time so we can say, ‘look we want to do this, what are your views, can we have a discussion about it, do you have any other suggestions?’
‘‘That’s the way it should be - from the bottom up not top down and being told what to do from Glenrothes.
“Each area is different. There are different needs and different priorities in Kirkcaldy than there are in St Andrews for example, and that’s where the Lib Dems come from.
‘‘Let the people themselves come together and have them come forward with constructive suggestions.”
“Another thing I feel strongly about is care for the elderly, which we also have in our manifesto. We’re going to have an increasingly elderly population and though I’m delighted that there’s going to be more linking of health and social work together, I do think there are areas which need fine tuned.
“There are care workers who are visiting the elderly who are only allocated 15 minutes.
‘‘It’s important that they have time to spend with them, giving them a little bit of company.
‘‘As a community I don’t see many volunteers coming forward to help the elderly even though I think there’s a lot more people who would willingly volunteer if they knew that help was needed.
“There are a great bunch of people here forever raising money for charity and things like that so maybe that could be expanded further.”
“You know, people say to me Kirkcaldy is a lovely town and I think you can take it for granted when you live here.
‘‘It’s a big town and the people are very friendly as well. There are very few places that have facilities like a park with a beach for example.
“And people are being very pro-active.
‘‘The Halfords Tour is coming, the Beveridge Park Festival gets bigger every year - things like that will bring people into town.
‘‘It’s been slow but I think over the last few years we’ve looked and decided that we need a programme of events throughout the year - the comedy festival etc. - which will bring people into the town and bring us a bit of publicity.
“So combined with improving the look of the town we want to make it an attractive and safe place for people to come.”
“I became a councillor in the first place after I came back to Kirkcaldy after spending time abroad.
‘’I went down to the High Street and was shocked at how run-down and drab it was.
“I wanted to do something about it and I have I have a determined streak in me that wants to get things done.”