Anger at plans to shut car park in heart of tourism hot-spot Clonakilty

Traders will meeting representatives of the Office of Public Works tomorrow to discuss the potential impact of plans to close a car park in the heart of tourism hot-spot Clonakilty next summer.

The Kent Street Car Park, behind the library and just off Spiller’s Lane will be closed to facilitate work on part of a much-needed flood defence wall, which, it is planned, will eventually run from the Supervalu roundabout just outside the town all the way to the local church.

The first tranche of the work will take place at the 80-space car park in the heart of the town. However, it has emerged that the OPW also proposes using this space to store machinery among other things, thus closing it off to the public from May to September of this year — right throughout the town’s high tourism season.

Local traders have expressed deep concern about the potential impact of this closure on local traders.

“This is peak tourism season in a town that depends heavily on tourism, and while some of the car park will be taken up by necessary work installing a flood defences wall, the OPW has indicated that it plans to use the whole car park for the storage of machinery among other things,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Christopher O’Sullivan, who said he has arranged a meeting between traders and representatives of the OPW about the matter, to take place in the town tomorrow.

At the meeting, viable alternative storage solutions will be outlined by locals, which he says would have “far less impact for trade and commerce in the town”.

Mr O’Sullivan said there is no doubt that the flood defence work needs to be done and local traders understand that the work has to take place between May and September so as not to impact on salmon spawning season.

However, the town has already endured months of disruption over 2015 and into 2016 during the massive renovation works on main street.

Losing 80 car parking spaces in the heart of the town during peak tourism season would, it is feared, have a very negative impact on the recovering trade, said Mr O’Sullivan.

“These car park spaces are crucial to the local trade and commerce,” he said.

He added that although Clonakilty boasts a “great new streetscape”, traders endured months of disruption while the work was being carried out and are only now starting to bounce back.

Following the face-to-face with OPW officials, a public meeting will be organised at which the public will be informed of the outcome of the discussions with the OPW.

“Clonakilty needs a flood relief scheme and we are grateful that it has been progressed this far,” said Mr O’Sullivan. “However we cannot put up with the same level of disruption as has been experienced by traders in recent years. Fingers crossed, common sense will prevail.”

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