City officials have ruled out scrapping the car ban on Cork’s main street which traders say has “decimated” afternoon trade.
Two weeks on from the introduction of time-regulated bus lanes on St Patrick’s St, traders say they are considering a march on City Hall in protest at the daily 3pm to 6.30pm ban on private cars.
Eddie Mullins, of Fitzgerald’s Menswear, said the street is like a ghost town from 1pm.
“I have never seen such a disastrous decision in all of my life,” he said. “The family-owned business in the city centre is now an endangered species. A lot of them had lost the will to fight but there is talk now of a march on City Hall.”
However, Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council, warned ongoing negative commentary about theban combined with the loss of 115 car parking spaces at Morrison’s Island, risks damaging the city’s image.
Speaking during Monday’s council meeting, she insisted the city is open for business, and pointed to the availability of parking spaces in the city council’s multi-storey car parks, particularly at North Main St, and the launch last week of corkparking.ie to provide up-to-date information on parking options.
However, Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said despite the Core partnership initiative between City Hall and traders, it is clear to him that there is a serious disconnect between those who run businesses in the city and those charged with running the city.
He called on the Lord Mayor’s office to facilitate a meeting between City Hall and traders to address their concerns. Despite mounting criticism of the ban, City Hall defended its consultation and insisted that there are no plans to scrap it.
“All restrictions are clearly sign-posted and the council is asking drivers to continue to pay particular attention to these signs and to be patient with other road users as they adjust to the layout,” a spokewoman said.
Traffic changes normally take time to “bed in” and the council is monitoring the “emerging new flow patterns”. It will make adjustments as necessary to ensure optimal flow for all, she said.
“This change is the latest in a series of improvements which have been introduced to support bus services and improve traffic flows,” said the spokeswoman. “This prioritisation on St Patrick’s St will reduce delays to scheduled timetables and ensure a reliable bus service.”
Bus Éireann, which operates more than 970 services on St Patrick’s St daily, said it will be next week before it can provide data on how the changes have affected its services.
City Hall said better routing of through traffic and improvement of bus services are necessary responses to the growth in the city’s workforce and residential population.
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