Kirkcaldy parking: £2 day charge to give town centre ‘unique selling point’

Plans to introduce a £2 a day charge at a Kirkcaldy town centre car park will provide the town with a “unique selling point” as it seeks to attract more visitors.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 5:01 pm

That’s the view of Kirkcaldy area committee convener Councillor Neil Crooks after a raft of measures designed to improve the visitor experience were given his committee’s backing on Tuesday afternoon.

The £2 all-day initiative will be introduced in the Thistle car park exclusively from late April or early May in a bid to encourage visitors and shoppers to extend their stay in the town centre, while discounted quarterly season tickets - currently £60 instead of £130 - in and around the town centre are to stay until at least March 2023.

Meanwhile, the long-term fate of the Thistle and Esplanade car parks, both of which have attracted criticism because of their dilapidated appearance, should also be known before the end of the year, with councillors asking officials to do what they can to speed up a feasibility study looking at their potential demolition.

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The measures to improve car parking in Kirkcaldy have come forward after councillors backed a motion in August calling for various initiatives to be looked at.

Mr Crooks stressed that while people’s changing habits meant the success of the £2 a day trial - which will last six months in the first instance - was uncertain, it is incumbent on the council to try whatever it can to increase footfall.

“There’s no guarantee that £2 all day will be taken up by people, but it’s about giving different offers to see what the reaction is,” he noted.

Councillor Rod Cavanagh

“Continuing to do what we’ve always done isn’t working effectively, so this is an attempt to improve dwell times so there’s less likelihood of people trying to rush away because their ticket is going to run out.

“A lot of people are negative about Kirkcaldy but new businesses are starting up in Kirkcaldy and there’s a really positive feel just now.

“The £2 all day ticket - there’s nothing like it anywhere else and it’s a unique selling point that will add to other things that are going on.”

Councillor Neil Crooks

Fellow Labour councillor Alistair Cameron echoed those sentiments and highlighted a real positivity among traders and businesses in and around the High Street.

“Yes, there have been been one or two shops closing, but there have been one or two that have opened,” he said.

“So the key is to put out a really positive message about these proposals.

“It’s all about making sure people have the confidence to spend £2 and spend the best part of the day in Kirkcaldy: we need to convince people from all over the town to come into town, we need to convince people from Burntisland, Kinghorn, other places, to come back in.

“We need to be saying ‘this is the reason to come down, this is the reason to spend all day here’.”

Councillors initially heard that the feasibility study into demolishing the town’s two multi-storey car parks was likely to be ready in late 2022/early 2023, but committee members expressed their desire to see the outcome sooner than that if possible.

SNP councillor Rod Cavanagh said: “We’ve been discussing car parks generally for years now and what disappoints me in all of this is that the whole of these discussions have been characterised by delay.

“To me, the demolition of the car parks are central to the rejuvenation of the town centre. We need them down and we need to do it soon.

“Ultimately they probably will come down, so why not get this show on the road?”

Labour councillor and council co-leader David Ross sympathised with that view somewhat but added: “I would like to see the feasibility study carried out and done as soon as it can be, but the last thing we want is to demolish these car parks and have them sitting there for years so we need to do the job properly.”

Councillor Gordon Langlands pointed out that ‘covered’ car parks were important in the Scottish climate, so he was not as “gung ho” as Councillor Cavanagh on the demolition issue.

Council officials suggested the study may well be carried out in-house, which could speed up the process, and that was welcomed by Labour councillor Ian Cameron.

“It’s a complete eyesore but it could well be the jewel in the crown for us in the waterfront,” he concluded.

The study will not only look at what demolition would mean for the town centre area but will also explore the possibility of surface area car parks and alternative accommodation for Shopmobility should the car parks come down.

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