New parking arrangements agreed

The Council’s Cabinet agreed new parking arrangements this week for the area around Kilmarnock Football Club on match days and for the town centre during the festive period.

Short-term match day parking restrictions are currently in place in the streets surrounding Rugby Park for road safety reasons and to ensure emergency routes remain free from parked vehicles. This is done through the use of yellow no waiting cones being placed on the carriageway. Complaints from residents have increased in recent years however due to an increase in indiscriminate parking in certain areas which cannot be addressed using the existing measures. Other issues involve the fact that cones can be very easily displaced and Kilmarnock FC has also indicated that it has limited staff resources for placing cones out on match days and would like to explore alternatives.

A consultation with residents was carried out in October 2021 which offered them the chance to consider proposals based around the introduction of permanent waiting restrictions at various junctions and also the introduction of part time waiting restrictions which would apply to certain lengths of road during specific times on match days.

Due to the overwhelming support for part time restrictions during a specified time period on match days, it has been agreed that part time waiting/loading restrictions will only apply on match days between the hours of 11am and 5pm. The statutory process for implementing a new Traffic Regulation Order will now get underway to manage the road safety implications of match day parking at Rugby Park. Occasional midweek fixtures with kick off times outwith these times can be accommodated by the inclusion of additional articles within the Order.

The new arrangements also support the Council’s Climate Change Strategy as the introduction of permanent line and sign arrangements will replace the current need for cones to be placed on the carriageway each match day. This will remove labour intensive multiple-stop vehicle journeys and help to reduce carbon emissions.

In relation to festive parking arrangements, a revised parking offer will be put in place this year based on feedback received about the parking initiative which was implemented within Kilmarnock town centre in 2021 for the second year in a row. This involved all parking charges throughout the town, both on-street and off-street, being suspended for the entire month of December.

The idea behind it was to support businesses by encouraging shoppers back into the town centre, however the initiative received mixed reviews as the desired outcomes were not necessarily achieved.

Feedback from a questionnaire issued to 36 local businesses found that 68% of respondents agreed that parking charges are an effective way to encourage parking space turn over. However, although there is support for a future Christmas parking initiative, only 38% of respondents believe that the all-day free parking offer is the most appropriate means of delivering the offer. The majority of support was for some form of partial offer instead.

Perhaps the most pertinent of the questions asked dealt with footfall and whether businesses had experienced an increase in the month of December. 70% of respondents stated they had not experienced an increase even though car parks were clearly very busy. The overwhelming consensus was that the additional vehicles occupying the car parks were parked by town centre workers or ongoing bus or train commuters.

All of the evidence suggests that the all-day free parking offer did not deliver the intended results and simply led to increased frustration for shoppers who had great difficulties in finding a parking space due to the increased numbers of vehicles which occupied car park spaces for the entire day.

It has therefore been agreed that a new parking offer will be introduced in December this year based on three free hours within the off-street car parks only. On-street parking is not included in this offer as the existing two-hour limit of stay does not align with the three-hour scheme and it’s felt that the majority of shoppers looking for shorter term parking sessions are still willing to pay for the convenience of being able to park close to their intended destinations. Further details will be made available nearer December.