Fife Local Election 2022: Nicola Sturgeon highlights cost of living crisis and pledges support for Kirkcaldy businesses during visit

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon highlighted the cost of living crisis as a main issue for voters and pledged to continue support for local businesses when she visited Kirkcaldy on the campaign trail this weekend.

Ms Sturgeon travelled to Dunfermline, Burntisland and Kirkcaldy during the last weekend of campaigning before Thursday’s election.

As well as meeting local SNP election candidates, activists, supporters in the area and posing for photographs with locals on Saturday, she also visited businesses in the towns to speak to owners and staff.

During the whistle-stop tour, the First Minister came to the east end of the Lang Toun where she took a walk along the Merchants’ Quarter.

The First Minister posed for photographs with supporters outside the Merchants Cafe.

She was accompanied by representatives from Love Oor Lang Toun, the community-based company set up in 2020 to support Kirkcaldy town centre regeneration.

Ms Sturgeon popped into florist shop The Flower Ranger where she met owner Rose Bentley-Steed for some tips on flower arranging before visiting into jewellery and gift shop, My Cherry Pie.

Owner Gail Cadogan spoke to Ms Sturgeon about how independent businesses in the Merchants’ Quarter were recovering post-pandemic and their importance in boosting the town’s economy.

Ms Sturgeon said this had been her first visit to Kirkcaldy since the pandemic and said she could see a lot of positive changes had taken place in the High Street.

The First Minister headed along the Merchants' Quarter in Kirkcaldy on Saturday during her visit to Kirkcaldy.

She also spoke to Deek Anderson and Dod Richardson at music shop Forth Music popped into the Heritage Bar to chat to local punters and spoke to customers enjoying refreshments at the Merchants Cafe.

Speaking exclusively to the Press, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think the main issue affecting everybody just now is soaring prices and the cost of living crisis, a lot of people are struggling with that so our main message is that we need strong councillors, strong councils who will work with government in Edinburgh to really do as much as possible to help.

"It is also really important to get councillors who will stand up for local services. It has been great seeing some small, independent, local businesses here in Kirkcaldy – they need a lot of support and one of the key commitments we are making is to continue the small business bonus that takes some of the costs away from small businesses.”

She continued: “I think there is also a lot of anger in this election about what Boris Johnston has been up to and the partygate stuff and the fact that he and the Tories are not really doing very much to help with the cost of living and they hold most of the levers so it is an opportunity to vote in a way that really tells them they need to be doing more.

The First Minister visited The Flower Ranger in the Merchants Quarter. She is pictured with owner Rose Bentley-Steed.

"I just want everybody whether they are male, female, young, old or in the middle, to vote SNP because we know Scotland’s voice is then heard more and we have good, local representation.

"Let’s come together as a country, here in Fife and across the country, and make sure we elect strong voices but also send a message to Boris Johnston and the Tories that their inaction over the cost of living is just not good enough.”

The First Minister’s visit to the Kingdom comes after Fife’s Conservatives published their manifesto packed with 50 specific proposals last week.

The party is looking to build on its 14 elected councillors when voters go to the polls on May 5.

The First Minister visited My Cherry Pie. She is pictured with owner Gail Cadogan.

Its manifesto pledges more and better scrutiny of council decisions, better value for money and decentralising decision making and budgets.

On the Kingdom’s economy, the Tory manifesto pledges to support a mixed economy of council (in-house) and commercial service solutions to maximise value for money, and off free parking for one hour stays to encourage local shopping and encourage more local town markets,

Dave Dempsey, the Tories’ group leader at the council, said: “Talking the talk is not enough. It’s time to entrust Fife to those who can bring ideas to life.”

The First Minister inside the Forth Music instrument shop. She is pictured with owner Deek Anderson.
First Minister with local youngster Ava Alcorn (5) in the Forth Music store
The First Minister chatting to locals inside the Merchants Cafe.