Council ends discount parking trial in Kirkcaldy town centre
Discounted parking in Kirkcaldy has been brought to an end after Fife Council concluded it was not a "silver bullet" for the town's long-term economic issues.
Over the last two years the local authority has trialled free parking days, the removal of Sunday charges, "free after three" evening discounts and cut-price season tickets in a bid to improve town centre footfall.
However, officers have concluded that they are not providing enough of a positive impact alone to justify the financial hit taken to enable them.
Council transport chief Derek Crowe told a committee last week: "What really tested the pilot was Covid-19 - the collapse in demand and footfall made it really challenging at a time when there was already decline in Kirkcaldy.
"It's very popular to talk about removing charges, giving free things, reducing charges, but they are not sustainable in this financial climate.
"The biggest lesson we learned is that car parking is secondary to the wider placemaking and town centre strategy approach. That's the way for the future, as opposed to looking at car parking as some form of silver bullet.”
Cheaper parking has been strongly supported by both locals and the Kirkcaldy Area Committee.
The town has suffered a protracted departure of big brand names, but schemes such as Love Oor Lang Toun are cropping up to promote and encourage footfall.
Thought is also being given to expanding how town centres are used beyond retail - looking towards leisure and even housing.
These measures form part of a long-term strategy to be agreed by a locally run leadership group - and these, officers have concluded, are more likely to stimulate the local economy than cheaper parking.
Gordon Mole,chief officer for business and employability added: "We have seen an increased level of small and independent retailers emerge in Kirkcaldy and that's due to the fact we're in a digital and online retail age.
"We've got to think about a mix of leisure and housing and that will be supported through the town centre strategy.
"We can't return to the past we were in 10 years ago. Those days are gone."