Town centre anger despite positive steps

Cllr Bill Kay
Cllr Bill Kay

An action plan briefing which highlighted efforts to improve Glenrothes town centre, could not deter anger over the continuing uncertainty over plans for a new supermarket, reports KEVIN QUINN.

Kirstin Marsh and Jim McLeish from Fife Council delivered an update on the Glenrothes Town Centre Action Plan to the North Glenrothes Community Council.

Despite hearing of positive steps, the audience, which included local councillors and MP Lindsay Roy, vented their frustration at the delay in action regarding the proposed new supermarket in the town centre, for which Tesco was chosen as the preferred bidder earlier this year.

Ms Marsh told them of planned improvements in Glenrothes town centre, including better signposting, an artists colony in the Kingdom Centre, improved entrance to the Rothes Halls and better links to Riverside Park.

However, the lack of movement regarding the new Tesco store took priority with those attending the meeting.

Service manger Jim McLeish defended the delay. He said: “The arrangements for the supermarket proposals are complicated. There are questions over parking, transport, access- all of these matters have to be discussed.

“Although it has been going on for years, the process only really began this year. We are currently waiting on an application from Tesco with details.

“I think it (the town centre) is attractive on the whole and it is well managed.

“All town centres have been hit with a number of reductions in units.”

Councillor Bill Kay proposed moving attention away from the Kingdom Centre.

He said: “The reality is that we need a decent shopping centre in Glenrothes. What steps are they taking to fill the empty shops?

“There is no question that trading is difficult all over. But this is not new in Glenrothes.

“There is a very poor quality of shops in the Kingdom Centre. Until AXA makes some effort it’s not going to get any better.

“There is developers that want to go in beside ASDA. If AXA can’t provide a decent shopping centre then we look elsewhere.”

Local businessman Colin Nikolic called for a deadline to be set, to stop the issue dragging on: “I understand Sainsburys are still interested, we should be saying to Tesco that there is a timeline.

“If they cannot meet the deadline then the process should begin again.

“We need a real heart to the town centre. It’s the core business that we need.

“We need some good news in the town. We need progress, we need the council to do something.”

Although angry at this lack of action, there was praise for the town centre action plan.

Community council chair Ron Page said: “I think Kirstin is doing a good job, it’s progress. We didn’t have this before.”

Cllr Kay added: “I think everybody supports what you are doing. It’s just that some of us want more.”

Councillor Kay Morrison believes local anger should be directed at the Kingdom Centre’s owners.

She said: “People are pent up and a lot of angry people expect the council to provide what is almost a miracle.

“We need to vent some of that frustration at AXA. That’s the organisation that has proved elusive in all of this.”

Mr McLeish finished by asking for people to remain positive.

He said: “We are promoting Glenrothes as best we can. We are all on the same side, we all want a new supermarket, we are awaiting the proposal.

“It’s the best new town in Scotland. The centre isn’t all bad, it’s got good shops worth going to.

“If we run it down it will dissuade more people from using it. It’s small positive steps that are needed. We need to talk it up, we all want the same thing.”