Plan to cut time limit on disabled parking

Concerns have been raised about proposals to reduce the time limit in disabled parking spaces in Cork City to just four hours.

And people who live in apartments where off-street parking is provided, will no longer be eligible for residents’ parking permits.

The changes are among several proposals contained in draft parking bylaws which have been put out for public consultation by Cork City Council following a major review of the city’s residents’ parking scheme, and the disabled person’s parking scheme.

The residents’ scheme allows a permit holder to park a vehicle in a disc parking zone without time limitation. Councillors were told on Monday almost 5,800 permits were issued in 2010, compared to about 3,100 in 2004.

The increase was driven by several factors, including significant growth in car ownership, increased development of residential apartments, and major extensions of the city’s disc parking zones.

City officials have now proposed an amendment to the scheme which would result in residents living in apartments where off-street parking is provided no longer being eligible for a resident’s parking permit.

The move is necessary to maintain a reasonable supply of on-street spaces, particularly in the city centre, for use by residents of houses and flats, and shoppers and visitors, officials said.

And there are also proposals to change the disabled person’s parking permit.

Holders of these permits had an exemption allowing them to park for free in disabled parking spaces without a time restriction.

The national scheme was reviewed by the Department of Transport in 2010 in association with the Disabled Drivers Association and the Irish Wheelchair Association, and found that it was no longer working properly.

Under the proposed changes in Cork City, holders of these permits will no longer be exempted from the time limit.

If the laws are passed, permit holders will only be allowed to park in these spaces for four hours. And once the vehicle is moved, they will not be allowed to park in the same spot again for an hour.

Official said the four-hour time limit is appropriate and was agreed following consultation with the Cork Access Group.

“This is to ensure a balance between allowing those who mobility is most severely impacted a reasonable amount of time to accomplish their tasks, and ensuring a reasonable turnover of spaces on the street,” their report said.

They said further consultation will take place before the laws are adopted.

But councillors raised concern about the reduced time limit.

“The four-hour time limit is a bit ridiculous,” Cllr Denis O’Flynn (Lab) said.

“Are we really expecting a wheelchair user working in the city to come out of the office, come down in a lift and move his car after four hours?”

City manager Tim Lucey said the review was conducted with the input from representatives of disabled drivers. He said the public consultation will allow the public to offer feedback on all the proposals.

He said special parking arrangements for home help workers are also working well.

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