Kirkcaldy parking trial to lure back shoppers and Links Market visitors

A fresh attempt to attract more people into Kirkcaldy town centre will start in time for the Easter school holidays and – crucially – the return of the Links Market, it has emerged.
The changes will see different parking charges introduced.The changes will see different parking charges introduced.
The changes will see different parking charges introduced.

Fife Council has confirmed that a six-month trial where people can park all day in the town’s Thistle multi-storey car park for just £2 will begin on April 4, and will run right through until Sunday, October 2.

The move was agreed by local councillors in January and aims to begin the process of simplifying the complex charging arrangements for car parking that currently exist across the town centre, with the single all day charge designed to encourage visitors and shoppers to extend their stay in the area.

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Timing, of course, could be everything, and officers have worked hard to not only launch the scheme at a time when families in particular will be out and about looking for things to do but also in advance of the Links Market starting on April 13 – when thousands of visitors will flock to the Esplanade for Europe’s longest funfair.

Councillor Neil Crooks, convener of Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “After two annis horribilis, the Links Market will provide the ideal tonic for chasing the blues away.

“We’ve got to give a massive thumbs up for the Starflyer (fairground ride) coming to town to light up the evening sky, and add in unlikely good weather and we’ll top off what should be a massive boost to the waterfront.

“We’ll have the £2 all day parking in place at the Thistle car park by then, and it will stay open at night for the Market which is great news.

“All I can say is: Bring it on!”

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The economic downturn and impact of the COVID pandemic has applied significant pressure to the council’s parking account, with a shortfall of around £1m realised last year.

That position is unlikely to improve significantly due to changes in people’s shopping behaviour and travel habits, but Kirkcaldy is hoping a range of measures – including the £2 per day charge at the Thistle multi-storey – will buck the trend and boost footfall.

In addition to the £2 a day trial, which will cost the council around £11,000 to introduce, cut price season tickets have been extended for the rest of the year, while an electronic barrier system to stop vehicles using the pedestrianised area of the High Street is also being pursued.

It is hoped the £2 per day tariff within the covered Thistle multi-storey car park alone will help avoid a reduction in turnover of vehicles in key, short-stay, locations which, in turn, would continue to support economic activity within the town centre and allow monitoring of parking demand.

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Currently Kirkcaldy has 20 off-street car parks offering around 2000 parking spaces, and 36% of those spaces are already provided free of charge.

These are typically positioned on the periphery, which encourages drivers to park and walk into town, while the remaining car parks in Kirkcaldy are a mixture of short-stay and long-stay based on their position and demand.