A LOCAL authority under fire for its towing and clamping policy has launched a €250,000 free parking initiative.
Cork City Council is giving €5 worth of free parking to every house within the city boundary.
The details are featured in the council’s newsletter City News, which is being distributed to an estimated 50,000 households.
The council has teamed up with ParkMagic on the initiative, which is designed to encourage motorists to switch to the pay-by-phone method of payment for on-street parking.
Each City News edition contains a starter park for ParkMagic, with €5 credit.
The system uses a window sticker to identify your car. Each sticker has a unique bar code which carries your account details and will carry credit against which parking costs can be charged. You can top up credit from your mobile phone or online.
The initiative follows a meeting last week between the Cork Business Association (CBA) and city councillors about parking concerns.
The CBA wants councillors to scrap disc parking, ease off on towing and clamping, and introduce parking meters to help stimulate trade in the city centre, already struggling because of the recession.
And late last week, another group of about 70 business owners signed a letter to the lord mayor criticising the city’s parking control regime, which they branded “unfair” and “dictatorial”. They also claimed it was damaging the city’s image.
“We are very concerned at the very unwelcoming parking control operated by Cork City Council, the absence of pay and display machines, the excessive zeal of the clamping and tow-away operators, the excessive numbers of loading bays and the duration of their availability,” the letter said.
“It is considered by many of the signatories to this letter that the role adopted by the enforcers has been one of bloodhound rather than watchdog.
“It is considered that clamping and/or tow-away is necessary for genuine obstructions but not for most cases.”
The same group has set up an email address and is encouraging motorists who have had experience of towing and clamping, or who have views on the policy, to email their concerns to email@example.com.
Head of the city’s traffic division, Dan Buggy, has said towing and clamping is essential to ensure an adequate turnover of parking spaces in the city centre.
He said he believed there was an “appropriate level of enforcement” in place at the moment.
Several councillors have tabled motions about towing and clamping for discussion when city council meetings resume next Monday night.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved