A political row has erupted over Kirkcaldy’s town centre parking charges in the wake of the closure of the High Street’s M&S.
When a trial reduced cost parking scheme came to an end earlier this year Conservative Councillor Kathleen Leslie voiced fears this may impact on footfall.
Calling the 80-year-old High Street branch’s closure a “devastating blow” to the High Street, she said there would inevitably be a knock on effect on shops and restaurants.
The Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy councillor claimed the council’s focus should have been more on regenerating the High Street rather than a long term “and perhaps over-ambitious” redevelopment of the waterfront.
“Parking charges have not helped at all.
“An end to reduced parking rates came about earlier this year and myself and Councillor Richard Watt stated at the time that we were concerned of the impact this may have on bringing shoppers into the town centre.
“There have to be incentives to bring visitors into the town centre and inflated parking rates have also hit staff in smaller restaurants and shops,” she said.
But Kirkcaldy area committee convener, Labour councillor Neil Crooks, said when the two councillors proposed free parking in Kirkcaldy, which he said would be welcome, they “forgot to say” where they would raise the lost income to balance the budget.
Deputy convener, SNP councillor Carol Lindsay reiterated that, adding “It appears spending someone else’s money is easy for them”.
Mr Crooks added: “Our area committee backed reduced parking charges, which cost a six figure sum, yet no increase in cars coming to town centre was achieved.
“Without Labour’s town centre £1 million town centre fund that would not have been possible and this Administration is working on a solution for parking to remove Sunday parking charges and use our available parking to get a better economic balance.”
Mr Crooks said the local authority had carried out a lot of work on the town centre and would continue to do so.
Ms Lindsay added: “Councillors Watt and Leslie may wish to limit the ambitions of Kirkcaldy and Fife.
“I believe if we are to achieve a better future for our community, we cannot afford to lack ambition.”