New Lord Mayor of Cork urges people to welcome Patrick Street car ban

By Olivia Kelleher

The new Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, has urged traders and shoppers to welcome the imminent afternoon traffic ban on Patrick Street after a previous attempt to implement it earlier this year caused major dissent in the business community.

Cllr Finn told Cork's 96FM that the local authority had carried out a lot of improvements to the initial scheme and that consultation had been increased with traders.

"Some of the measures being introduced include set down areas across in the periphery of Patrick Street. We are looking at the parking incentives. There is going to be a major leaflet drop. A lot of measures have been agreed and a lot of work has gone into this and it will lead to a smoother introduction in to this."

He acknowledged that change was difficult for traders and shoppers alike but said that he anticipated a far smoother transition on August 9 than what occurred during the first launch in March.

I think it is fair to say that the initial introduction to this (earlier this year) wasn't done to the standard it should have been and people were left in the dark. That hasn't happened this time around.

This is the second attempt by Cork City Council to introduce bus corridors into Patrick Street in Cork this year. The previous launch was suspended in March after three weeks when traders said that business was being decimated by a massive drop of footfall in the city centre.

Cork City Council agreed to pause the scheme until August 9 to allow for significant engagement to increase awareness of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS) and its role in addressing traffic congestion and for the development of a promotional campaign for the city centre.

A marketing campaign for Cork City Centre, funded by the National Transport Authority, will start in the coming weeks. A public information campaign "It's All About Cork City" will also be run by Cork City Council involving print, radio, video animation, publiic leaflets and social media.

When the plan is reimplemented in August it will again involve the limiting of the city's main streets to buses, taxis, emergency vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians for three and a half hours every day from 3pm to 6.30pm.

Incentives include extended hours in the Park and Ride bus service on the southside of the city, new set down areas and half price parking deals.

Meanwhile, the Green Party says the negativity surrounding of the aborted launch in March needs to be blown away.

The party says the initiative should be relaunched with more positive messaging and is proposing a retail festival show-casing Patrick's Street to coincide with the re-launch.

Oliver Moran, the party's representative in Cork North Central, said the reboot in August has to leave a big splash.

It needs to communicate to people what this is all about, which is the opening up of the city centre for workers and shoppers. What better way to do that than with a retail festival of music and celebration show-casing Pana. The message has to be that Patrick's Street is open, come down and enjoy it.

One of the opponents to the car ban earlier this year Eddie Mullins of Fitzgerald's Menswear was heading into meetings to discuss the proposals this morning.

Mr Mullins, who heads a store which first opened in the city in 1860, said that he was apprehensive of the changes but was trying to operate a "time will tell" policy.

"There is some very good proposals on it like extending the Park and Ride (hours) and extending it into the city. But we should have four Park and Rides in the city not one. There is a marketing plan. We don't know. Trade returned very quickly after they suspended it. People are fearful again."

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