The announcement just over a week ago that Marks & Spencer is to leave Kirkcaldy is another blow to an already struggling town centre. Hikes in parking charges, high business rates, free parking at the retail park and changes in consumer purchasing trends, have all hit the high street.
Hearing Marks & Spencer though is to leave comes as a bigger concern as it being there is undoubtedly what draw footfall to the town centre and in turn leads to business at other, often smaller, retail outlets.
At next week's Kirkcaldy Area Committee a motion has been tabled by Cllr Richard Watt and I calling for a full and frank discussion. There is already much talk being generated by councillors and local people - the views are wide and varied. Whilst I have some initial thoughts on what has gone wrong and what can be done about it, I very much believe in hearing the voices of local people - therefore, prior to next week's meeting I am looking for thoughts and feedback from people on what they think.
The Fife Free Press is currently running a survey on the future of the town centre. The link can be found here - https://www.fifetoday.co.uk/news/business/survey-your-opportunity-to-shape-the-future-of-kirkcaldy-high-street-1-4819431
Today's Courier carried a mention of our motion to Committee- https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/751123/talks-over-the-postings-future-constructive-as-kirkcaldy-town-centre-fears-continue/
Here is the text of what will be debated next week:
This committee notes with disappointment the closure of the M&S retail store on Kirkcaldy High Street and the lack of a report from officers requested on 30th January on a variety of measures to improve the viability of Kirkcaldy High Street. The committee requests:
• Esplanade redevelopment is suspended until a credible business plan showing third party buy-in and tangible economic benefit to Kirkcaldy is produced.
• A report detailing feasibility and associated cost of removing all parking charges from car parks serving the town centre is brought to the next committee.
• A report detailing possible concessions of town-centre non-domestic rates is brought to the next committee.
• A series of TROs detailing the de-pedestrianisation of the High Street are brought for approval to the next Kirkcaldy Area committee.