Pay parking could soon be introduced in all large towns in Co Cork, according to the chairman of the county council’s Transport Special Purposes Committee.
Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Coleman made the comment yesterday after a lengthy and sometimes heated debate on pay parking in Douglas, which was introduced 21 months ago.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath and Independent councillor David Boyle had pushed for a change in Douglas’ parking bylaws, including the introduction of an initial hour’s free parking.
They claimed the 80c/hr on-street charge was having a negative impact on businesses and also wanted the council to go back for further public consultation on the issue.
However, deputy county manager Declan Daly, who lives in Douglas, said he believed pay parking there was “operating in a highly sustainable way” and if it was not in place, it would discourage people cycling and walking in the area.
Mr Boyle described the parking situation in Douglas as “a fiasco” and Mr McGrath said he could not understand how there could be legal implications from changing the bylaws at this stage.
Mr Daly said he had sought legal advice and was told there could be implications for cases where people still had not paid parking fines, especially if the bylaws were changed in mid-stream and these cases ended up before the courts.
He said money had been promised from the National Transport Authority for transport enhancement projects in Douglas.
Mr Daly said that while the NTA had not made any comment on bylaw changes, he believed such a move “could mitigate against” the NTA’s continued support for these projects.
The two councilors narrowly lost a vote (18 to 17) to re-examine the Douglas issue with a second public consultation process.
Meanwhile, Mr Coleman said the Transport SPC was looking at developing a county-wide policy on pay parking.
“I expect we will have a report in a few months’ time [from council officials] after which we will put a draft policy in place and bring it before full council,” said Mr Coleman. “It will take at least nine months.”
It is expected these guidelines will then be studied by members of the newly elected municipal areas, which will come into force following the local elections at the end of May.
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said, due to these factors, it was pointless having further public consultation with people in Douglas on pay parking.
His party colleague, councillor Veronica Neville, said Douglas businesses were in fact benefiting from rotation of customers.
“Generally speaking pay parking is here to stay and people have to be realistic about it,” she said.
Mr Coleman said after the meeting that, while the Transport SPC would draw up a template for future pay parking, it would be up to each of the new municipal areas within the council to implement.
Pay parking charges have been introduced by town councils. They will be abolished after the local elections and all their functions will taken over by the county council.
When asked if he believed pay parking would be installed in all the county’s larger towns, Mr Coleman replied: “Yes, I think that’s what [county council] management is angling for.”
While towns such as Bandon, Youghal, Fermoy, Macroom, Mallow, Cobh and Kinsale, have pay parking many more do not.
Traders in Midleton have previously voiced their concern that pay parking could be introduced there, claiming it would have a very negative impact on their business.
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