Speaking following a meeting of the Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee at Cork County Council, Cllr. Paul Hayes has welcomed the clarity that pay parking will not be imposed on towns that don’t currently have it.
In recent months, especially since Town Councils were abolished, traders expressed fears that Cork County Council would attempt to impose a system of harmonised pay parking across the county.
The Strategic Policy Committee is tasked with formulating a draft policy to present to a full meeting of Council outlining recommendations on how best to manage parking across the county. As part of that process, consideration must be given to the application of pay parking where necessary.
Recognising that a ‘one size fits all’ policy will not work, Cllr Hayes welcomed some important comments from the Council officials present, namely that ‘it would be desirable that some of the financial benefits from pay parking would be ring-fenced for re-investment in the towns concerned,’ and more importantly from a West Cork perspective that ‘the introduction of pay parking to any town where this does not currently exist will be a matter for the Municipal District’.
“We in the West Cork Municipal District have been seeking this clarification since our very first meeting after the Local Elections. The introduction of pay parking is resisted hugely here in West Cork, as many believe that it would be detrimental to town centre businesses who are already under pressure from ‘out of town’ shopping centres.
I believe we need to tip the scales in favour of town centre businesses in order to keep our towns vibrant, and the fact that the eight West Cork Councillors will now be able to continue to promote the area as free from pay parking will be of great benefit to locals and visitors alike.”
While welcoming the clarity on pay parking, Paul Hayes cautioned that West Cork towns still needed better parking management in order to create a more pleasant and functioning environment for shoppers, deliveries, buses and non drivers – with a quick turnover of town centre spaces ideally.
“We do need the cooperation of town centre business people and especially their employees to park in long term car parks during the day rather than taking-up valuable on-street parking spaces or parking in residential areas. I am in frequent contact with the Chamber of Commerce in Clonakilty for example, and always make a point of highlighting this issue with their members, it is after all in their own best interests to encourage their employees not to park where a potential customer could park instead, and also to keep a good relationship and harmony with residents who live in the town centre.
Our vision must also be cognisant of those with disabilities and mobility problems. We need to make our town centres accessible and inclusive for all our citizens to enjoy, whether that be better placement of wheelchair friendly parking spaces or preventing cars from parking up on footpaths etc.”
It is hoped that a draft parking management policy for the county will be signed-off at the next SPC meeting in early December.