Column: Common sense parking charges another step forward for Kirkcaldy town centre

If you were to start with a blank piece of paper, there’s no way you’d design Kirkcaldy town centre as it stands right now.
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It’s too long, it’s a hotch potch of development, often decided in a piecemeal manner, and, worst of all, it has its back to the sea.

For years we’ve demonstrated the patience of a saint waiting for something - anything - to happen.

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It was as if the Lang Toun had simply fallen off the agenda, and been forgotten about under a pile of paper in the pending tray.

The unloved and poorly used Esplanade multii-storey car park in KirkcaldyThe unloved and poorly used Esplanade multii-storey car park in Kirkcaldy
The unloved and poorly used Esplanade multii-storey car park in Kirkcaldy

Post lockdown, I sense more activity, more urgency and more progress than I have done for some time.

A new development is proposed for the old Stagecoach land just past the Basin, and Lidl is just about to complete its flit along there, with Iceland moving into its current base..

More residential plans are emerging to breathe new life into unused space above shops, work has started on the old Co-Op gap site - I’m quite taken by the big hole that seems to have been smashed through the middle of the walk of the old Reid Furniture store next to it! - and other development plans are in the pipeline.

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I do like the new look waterfront, and it’s great to see so many people out on the Prom on a daily basis.

And now, we have a seven-point plan to tackle that old chestnut - parking charges.

I do believe town centres should have parity with retail parks, but going free isn’t going to happen, and the option of a flat £2 daily charge is, literally, pennies. That wouldn’t even get you half an hour in Edinburgh.

I also like the idea of cordoning off the end of the pedestrianised zone to stop drivers using it as a rat run. Without the passing vehicles, it opens up that space for so many potential uses.

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New seven-point plan to change parking charges in Kirkcaldy town centre
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I’d like to think it would deter the halfwit I saw weaving in and out of pedestrians the other day, with his music pumping. His only disability was his sheer laziness not to spin round Hill Street or along the waterfront.

If it doesn’t, then a controlled access point at Burtons might do the trick.

We do need to weed out every driver who uses the pedestrianised zone just because they can, rather than because they need to, or have a right to.

Does anyone ever use the CCTV footage to challenge people who abuse the regulations? If not, why not?

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And the more they are eradicated, the more we can see what we have.

Contrary to social media commentators, we have a decent High Street with a busy cafe culture, and a lot of independent businesses committed to operating here.

Comparing it with what we had before takes us nowhere. We need to look ahead - not back.

And for all it’s shortcomings, I’d far rather wander along the High Street than the soulless, utterly depressing retail park where the only fun is watching cars try to squeeze round its hopelessly small, tight roads.

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If the seven-point plan to tackle parking is a success then we’re one more step on the road to a town centre fit for now, and the future.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.