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21 August 2019

Investment plan for towns like Kirkcaldy urged by FSB

Reference number: SPUR2108

Kirkcaldy should be supported with UK Government and Scottish Government investment, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

A new report urges the Scottish Government and the UK Government to direct the Scottish National Investment Bank and the UK Stronger Towns Fund respectively to invest in projects and properties that would boost Scottish high streets and town centres.

 Kirkcaldy town centre has seen bad news with the impending closure of Debenhams while at least 6 bank branch, shop and local premises closures have been announced in the town by big businesses since the start of 2016. Across Scotland, the FSB has tracked 415 similar closures.

Janet Torley, FSB’s East of Scotland Area Leader, said: “Almost 50,000 people call Kirkcaldy their home. But towns like this have recently faced real pressure from big business and public sector closures.

“That’s why FSB is calling on governments north and south of the border for long term investment in our local towns. This new supply of cash should help them adapt to current challenges but also help them to lay the groundwork to be great places to live in the future.”

The report highlights innovative work to fill empty units but urges initiatives – such installing co-working spaces and installing town centre recycling facilities – to be rolled out more widely.

Janet Torley said: “Over the past few years we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of empty properties in Kirkcaldy. To tackle this problem, we need think more creatively about filling these gaps. In our report we suggest we need to press for new facilities – such as recycling stations and vehicle charging points – to be located in the centres of our local places.

In the last three years, big retailers such as BHS, M&S and Debenhams have announced closures in Kirkcaldy.

Janet Torley said: “The closures of big name stores in the High Street, combined with the growth of Kirkcaldy’s out of town retail parks and the collapse of major employers such as Havelock have created a major challenge for Kirkcaldy.  The investment recently announced for the town by Fife Council from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund is a welcome starting point but sustained and strategic investment will be needed to turn around the fortunes of Kirkcaldy and other similar Scottish towns.”