An open letter from St Andrews Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) to Fife Council has criticised the decision to remove on street parking in town. This comes as sustainable transport charity Sustrana awarded Fife Council £2.42 million to enforce temporary measures to make the town safe for pedestrians and cyclists during the coronavirus pandemic.
St Andrews Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) have written an open letter to Fife Council highlighting their concerns over the removal of on street parking in the town centre as a result of the new Spaces for People proposal.
Through the Spaces for People programme, the sustainable transport charity Sustrans awarded Fife Council £2.42 million to install temporary measures to make it safer for people to walk, cycle or wheel for permitted journeys and exercise. These changes aim to both help people adhere to the COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines and promote sustainable travel.
The proposed projects include wider areas for pedestrians, pop-up cycle lanes, traffic calming and road closures. As part of one of the projects, parking has been suspended for various streets in the centre of town.
BID St Andrews oppose this specific measure on economic grounds, stating that it will stall their recovery from the financial hit produced by the lockdown that happened in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the fact that the St Andrews economy generates over £280 million in wages within the town and over £135 million in wages flowing out to the communities outside St Andrews, BID St Andrews warned Fife Council that a continuation of the current situation would be a “financial ticking time-bomb”.
They added, “We want to do everything to prevent this but many of our businesses are on their knees, many have had to make redundancies already and some have already closed for good.”
In the letter, they stated that “the response to COVID-19 has rightly been about saving lives, and the businesses of St Andrews responded quickly and without hesitation by shutting our doors and adapting our business models to ensure that the community had access to essential supplies. Our town is now open for business, and we want to recover as quickly and as safely as possible.”
They further articulated their anxiety about the effect the measures will have on the elderly.
They said, “We have over 1000 octogenarians living in St Andrews, many of whom rely on access to the town for essentials. As we come into Winter and the predictably inclement weather it brings, proximity of parking is even more important for safety, particularly for the older population or those with accessibility issues.”
The letter also raised the concern that there has been a lack of “meaningful consultation” between Fife Council and the businesses which are directly impacted by the new proposals. In addition, it was noted that the proposal for limiting parking directly contravenes the government’s recommendations that the public try and avoid public transport and travel by car if possible. As a result, there is some confusion over how eliminating parking will encourage visitors to use a car.
BID St Andrews concluded, “We can say without any doubt that the implementation of some of these measures will have a devastating impact on our businesses, our families, and beyond. As individual businesses and as an organisation we have long been campaigning about the serious lack of parking spaces in the area and we strongly object to these measures and want them stopped.”