Kirkcaldy M&S closure sparks decline in High Street visitor numbers

M&S Kirkcaldy High Street  (Pic: Fife Free Press)
M&S Kirkcaldy High Street (Pic: Fife Free Press)

The closure of M&S has resulted in another drop in the number of people coming into our town centre.

And that has left Fife Council with a headache over what to do with its car parks - and whether the parking charges implemented in Kirkcaldy now need to change.

Two of its biggest revenue generating car parks were in the Lang Toun – Tolbooth Street and the car park above Tesco.

The council closed the former, while the latter is near empty since the supermarket quit town in 2015.

But parking charges remain hugely contentious with many believing the are keeping people away when they have the alternative of free parking at Fife Retail Park or up the A92 in Glenrothes.

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The Fife Free Press recent town centre survey, which drew 1000 responses, branded parking as poor.

This week, local councillors were given an update from officers on various data streams relating to car parking in the town.

The challenge now is to find a way ahead that works for it - and the town.

Options include free parking days, free parking periods, more residents’ parking, charges at railway stations, change the hours when charges apply, more on-street parking, and demolishing the tired looking multi-storeys.

That means difficult conversations within Fife House and the Town House to spark change.

Cllr Crooks added: “We have had feedback over many years on the subject of car parking and our town centre. but have been struggling to implement change because of the corporate management lying centrally within Fife Council.

“What is good for Kirkcaldy may not be good for Fife. This administration plans to decentralise management of local car parking budgets to area level so this is a new opportunity for us to set out our stall.”

Cllr Crooks said Kirkcaldy’s parking budgets showed a deficit, but Fife-wide, there was a surplus in the pot.

“ Making car parking work in favour of the town centre is the challenge and that picture will look very different at the end of this pilot than it does at the moment ,” he added.