Some of the retailers, professionals and employees working in the heart of Midleton in Co Cork are occupying Main Street car parking spaces on a daily basis.
“The car parks in Midleton are full. Traffic is at a standstill and people are double parking on the main street. It’s chaos,” warned Cllr Susan McCarthy.
The town, 19km from Cork city and located just off the main route to Waterford and Rossclare, is regarded as the central hub of business in East Cork.
The Midleton distillery is located in the town and the Jameson Experience is one of the country’s premier tourist attractions.
Significantly, the town does not have paid-parking and does not have a traffic warden.
Members of the East Cork municipal district council is considering deploying a warden from nearby Cobh amid warnings the town was now at a critical juncture with traffic congestion.
Cllr Susan McCarthy said action was needed to support businesses on the main street.
A private multi-storey car park near the Iceland supermarket was rarely full and provided free parking for the first hour. She said she would “love to take over” the car park.
Council officials said they were examining ways to maximise the use of town centre parking spaces and would consider changes in tandem with new streetscape works expected to get underway this year.
Discussions are continuing with the local chamber of commerce and the council was hoping workers would be encouraged to park on the outskirts of the town, officials said. They also want businesses to utilise potential parking spaces at the rear of premises.
Cllr McCarthy said the two-hour limit required enforcement.
“Perhaps the presence of a traffic warden might help.
“Maybe we have to look at going down the road of pay parking but I’d know there would be a lot of opposition to that,” she said.
Cllr Michael Hegarty said he knew there were staff and business operators parking all day long on Main Street and they’d have to get alternative parking.
Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said when pay parking was brought into Youghal, it was decided all off-street parking would be free but charges would apply for parking on the main streets.
The initiative had worked, she said, and it had lead to a good turnover of spaces on the main streets which had benefitted local shops.
“It’s something that should definitely be looked into,” she told her Midleton colleagues.
Municipal district officer Joe McCarthy said, some years ago, traffic wardens had been policing parking in Midleton and there had been a greater availability of spaces.
“A lot of this could be resolved if business owners and staff didn’t park on the street,” he said.
“The problem arises because of misuse of prime spaces. Enforcement is necessary.”
Cllr Susan McCarthy, meanwhile, said the presence of a traffic warden would pay for itself as fines would be issued to motorists breaching the two-hour bylaw.
“If you have a warden in there two or three days a month it will pay dividends,” she said. Officials agreed to consider her request.
Meanwhile, Cllr Danielle Twomey said she was concerned about a lack of disabled spaces in the town, apart from some at the Distillery car park.
Council officials said a town-wide review on disabled parking is being conducted.