The council received £2.4 million in support of temporary action, meant to protect the health of pedestrians and cyclists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barriers were erected to effectively widen the pavements and give pedestrians more room to walk past each other at a safe distance. After criticism from local businesses, the barriers were taken down and and Fife communities will now be consulted in further actions to promote social distancing measures.
Parking restrictions proposed by Fife Council in St Andrews and the Crail area have been objected by hundreds of local citizens as they fear their businesses will face devastation due to car parking being removed. There has been criticism in the north east region of Fife concerning Fife Council’s future actions to aid in social distancing, and Fife communities are now being carefully consulted in further actions to promote social distancing measures.
The council received £2.4 million in support of temporary action, meant to protect the health of pedestrians and cyclists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barriers were erected to effectively widen the pavements and give pedestrians more room to walk past each other at a safe distance. As a result, dozens of parking spaces have been removed from the town centre to further aid social distancing in the towns of Crail and St Andrews.
Almost 60 businesses have spoken out of the potential devastation this could cause for them and said they had been given no say in the matter. Locals have also led campaigns against these measures, resulting in the council removing the ‘ludicrous’ parking barriers.
Fife Council’s lead consultant, Allan McLean stated that the measures taken were an emergency response to the pandemic and were placed with well intentions.
Mr McLean said, “We would normally follow extensive consultation protocols but because of the lockdown restrictions that was difficult to deal with.
“Face-to-face contact was not possible. It wasn’t ideal but we did the best we could.”
He also stated that the reaction to Spaces for People was somewhat mixed, with some communities showing enthusiasm towards the initiative.
“This is a well-meaning project concerned with public health. We are now in a better position than we were when we first started regarding consultation protocols.”
Furthermore, members of the north east area committee have agreed that any future consultation on the matter should be in agreement with the national standards for community engagement.
Independent East Neuk Councillor Linda Holt said it was a great initiative that had run into problems due to the lack of consultation with the local community.
“If these procedures had been followed we would have had approval and buy-in from communities. It’s absolutely essential that happens in the future.”
St Andrews Conservative Councillor Dominic Nolan stated that he was glad the importance of consultation had been recognised.
Speaking of this, he said, “Only by giving plenty of opportunity for all concerned parties to respond to proposals can we avoid the situation of being seen to react to whatever latest representation has been received.”
“By gathering all views in advance, we can limit the trial and error nature of these proposals as much as possible.”