Column: Bold thinking can revive our town after lockdown ...

The new Advantage open air cafe at the Adam Smith Theatre has been a huge success (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)The new Advantage open air cafe at the Adam Smith Theatre has been a huge success (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
The new Advantage open air cafe at the Adam Smith Theatre has been a huge success (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Lockdown was the seismic jolt needed to value what we have

It’s good to see Kirkcaldy town centre busy once again.

The evidence may be anecdotal – part gut instinct, part observation – rather than scientific, but more people seem to be shopping local after lockdown.

Maybe it took a seismic jolt to perhaps re-evaluate what we have, rather than bemoaning what we have lost in the way of shops.

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Friday saw the sun shine and folk out in good number at the weekly market.

It’s getting bigger and has scope to develop further once we finally get cars removed, or at least managed and minimised, in the pedestrianised zone.

That’s in hand, but as long as vehicles try to snake through crowds of folk stopping to chat, browsing, and criss-crossing, there remains a risk – one this town needs to make bold moves to finally resolve.

The white van which inched past me was little more than two feet from my shoulder. That simply isn’t acceptable. People and vehicles don’t mix. Let’s start from that premise, and re-configure the street.

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Of course, it’s easier to say that than do it, but, post lockdown, every time we identity a problem, the first question those who pull the levers of power should ask in response is “how can I help?”

Cafe culture is one of the key components of our town centre’s future. It isn’t the only one, but it is one development that rekindles that vital re-connection between people and place.The success of the outdoor cafe/bar at the Adam Smith Theatre is another project which has started folk thinking “hmm, what if ...”

Such as, what if we shut the road completely, permanently, and created a glorious public space that rolled into the War Memorial Gardens?

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Shut Bennochy Road at the top bridge, shove traffic round past the station in a loop back to Wemyssfield, and create a vibrant green space that embraces our theatre, art gallery and museum.

The idea for the gardens has been talked about as part of the Festival of Ideas – a sprawling marquee taking you from theatre to performances under the trees.

But it isn’t just about events. Imagine it as our version of Princes Street Gardens – a place simply to be.

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That’s pretty much what Volunteers Green should do, but instead seems largely forgotten. Four walls keeping its potential wrapped up.

We need to look away from the Town Square and make use of our other asset; the gardens, our parks, our waterfront. They’re planning drive-in movies in Leven this summer. Why not Kirkcaldy as well?

But it all costs money, I hear you cry? Sure, but until we start pitching ideas – big ones, bold ones, even bonkers ones – nothing much will change.

Sitting at The Advantage cafe last Friday, the sun shone, every table was filled and there was a cracking queue at Kangus’ caravan.

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People in this town will support new ideas and ventures. They want this town to succeed and thrive once more.

The desire is there. People are willing to pitch in and play their part.

So let’s be bold and imaginative, Let’s rip up the rule book. After all, rules are written in pencil …

» The views expressed are those of the columnist, and not the newspaper

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