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Motion to speed up Kirkcaldy town centre measures branded “nonsense”

Kirkcaldy High Street.
Kirkcaldy High Street.

A Conservative call to fast track measures to breathe new life back into Kirkcaldy town centre has been voted down.

Councillors on the Kirkcaldy area committee voted 10-2 against a motion lodged by Tory members Richard Watt and Kathleen Leslie.

The pair were calling for timescales around the town’s proposed Area Place Making and Car Parking Options Review pilot project to be shortened from an estimated two years to less than six months.

They said plans to delay any action on parking charges and High Street health in Kirkcaldy until 2020 could be considered “too unambitious”, and suggested a pilot scheme by June this year.

However, their motion was rejected in favour of an amendment from Labour councillor David Ross, which was seconded by SNP councillor Lesley Backhouse.

It supported the Fife Council administration’s existing proposal to review car parking.

Mr Ross pointed out that Kirkcaldy area members, town centre partners and senior executive officers are due to consider next steps in the pilot at a session on January 22, and accused Conservatives of displaying a “lack of understanding” about the work currently going on.

“Quite honestly, putting this motion here today is nonsense,” he said.

Ms Backhouse suggested the Tories were “out of step” with how the process worked.

Committee chairman, Labour councillor Neil Crooks, said he felt the motion had been a publicity stunt and he would have preferred to have seen it withdrawn.

“It’s not doing any particular good to the future discussions and how we’re going to end up finding a way forward for the complex issues facing the town centre,” he said.

Mr Watt said he had been briefed about the timescales suggested and believed the council was unlikely to be in the “best focus of mind” by then since the Scottish Government elections are due to take place in 2021.

He said: “Any changes to the High Street aren’t going to happen until late 2020, if at all. I want real action before the summer to save the town centre, not to cry about it when it’s gone.

“There is still a solid offering on the High Street, but it’s hard to justify paying £1.20 more for a coffee than I would at the retail park.”

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