Plea to bring back cars to Falkirk’s High Street

editorial image

Bringing vehicles back to the High Street is being proposed to help revitalise the ailing town centre.

The suggestion from a business owner came days after Marks & Spencer revealed it was consulting about closing its main store in Falkirk.

Now Falkirk Council has set up a cross-party working group to look at safeguarding the economic future of the town,

Richard Grahame, who runs Callendar Pharmacy at the east end of the High Street, put forward the suggestion that pedestrian-only areas should be axed, bringing vehicles back to the main thoroughfare.

He said: “What we need is traffic to be allowed back on the High Street effectively giving businesses a ‘shop window’ to promote themselves.

“There should also be free parking, only for an hour and closely monitored to ensure it is not abused, which would encourage people to shop and use the services in the town centre.”

He added that in his home town of Newtownards in Northern Ireland both of these concepts work effectively.

“It’s a thriving place and there is no reason Falkirk shouldn’t be as well. We’ve already carried out a poll on our business Facebook page and two-thirds of people are in favour of it.

“Currently, the pedestrianised area and lack of free parking is a barrier to trade.”

Mr Grahame is due to meet with Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson this week to discuss his suggestions.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the SNP administration vowed “to leave no stone unturned” to turn around the fortunes of the town centre.

Announcing the all-party working group, Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, said: “What should be abundantly clear is that if we are to turn around Falkirk town centre then we need a much higher level of ambition and radical thinking than we have seen to date.

“We also require everyone to be pulling together in the same direction.”
“The future of Falkirk town centre is crucial, we want to create a vibrant and growing economy which is attractive for people to live and work in. Decisions taken now will impact on generations to come, which is why we cannot afford to have games played or options discarded without good reason.”

She will be joined by colleagues David Alexander and Lorna Binnie, along with Labour’s Pat Reid and John Patrick from the Conservatives.

They also hope to recruit town centre manager Alex Fleming and Suzanne Arkinson, Howgate manager, along with others.

Meetings have also taken place with the Scottish Government’s infrastructure delivery company, the Scottish Future’s Trust.

Alex Fleming said: “We are 100 per cent behind this initiative and commend the inclusive approach being undertaken. That is what Falkirk’s business community want to see.”