Shoppers are abandoning Bandon as a result of street closures, traffic chaos and a lack of adequate traffic management, signage and parking, it has been warned.
Traffic disruption in the West Cork town has become so drastic that local businesses have called an urgent “multi-agency” meeting for Monday next, November 18.
The Bandon Business Association (BBA) has called the town’s three local TDs and six local council representatives as well as representatives from Cork County Council, the construction company involved in the works, Irish Water and An Garda Siochana to the meeting.
The reason, says Hilary O’Farrell, association chairperson, is the massive traffic chaos caused by works on the main drainage scheme as well as the closure of a local street, Gallows Hill.
The BBA has criticised what it calls “the lack of effort to accommodate the businesses and people of Bandon during the ongoing works”.
“There is no traffic management which is leading to chaos; it’s leading to people sitting in cars that are at a standstill for 30 minutes at a time - people are avoiding the town centre,” Ms O’Farrell said.
The association wanted proper traffic management and parking systems to be put in place, she said, warning that there were now 13 vacant business premises on main street.
“Traffic management, signage and parking are causing huge issues to the people who are living and working in Bandon town every day,” said the statement, adding that, while much effort was invested in the organisation of community activities to attract people to Bandon, “the reality we’re facing is that people are avoiding the town as much as they can.
“When there is a traffic diversion there is very little done to actively manage the ensuing traffic jams. Poor signage doesn’t help but the effective management of traffic is not happening at all.
“Stop and Go systems need to be manned between 8am and 6pm and not left to traffic lights as the experience tells us that this does not work.” Other towns which had undergone extensive civil works had had completely different experiences in relation to such matters as alleviation of parking and active traffic management, said the BBA.
“We are asking our loyal customers to bear with the disruption in Bandon and urge them to continue to shop local at this time and throughout the Christmas period.”
In a statement, Cork County Council said it was in frequent contact with the BBA in relation to the works, “in order to minimise disruption as much as possible and facilitate the day-to-day activities of Bandon town.
“Cork County Council permits road opening licences as requested by Irish Water in order to facilitate these works,” said the statement. It added that these matters related to traffic management associated with a major Irish Water infrastructure improvement project and that the Council did not have any remit in relation to ongoing traffic management.