TRADERS and councillors fear shoppers will be hounded out of town after the council confirmed it has clearance to more than double the number of traffic wardens.
Responding to a question from Sinn Fein’s northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan, at this week’s council meeting, the transportation director of service Vincent Murray, confirmed they hasve secured funding to hire six new wardens, as well as a new supervisor.
At present, there are four wardens on the city streets. Many people have cited the speed at which parking tickets - which carry an initial fine of €40 - are handed out as one of the reasons trade in the centre has dropped.
The council’s biggest drop in income has come from the sale of parking discs - and it hopes to tackle this through the recruitment.
However, Catherine Street trader Mike O’Connell, who is in business 26 years, said: “If Limerick Corporation employ six more traffic wardens, they can rebuild the walls to Limerick, gate it and lock it. If they do not open up parking for people, then the city is finished.”
Independent councillor John Gilligan says city management must be very careful as to how the wardens are deployed.
“Provided the traffic wardens come in, do their job and not start hounding people, then I will welcome them. But I think we have to be very careful. We have to work out a strategy. If we get this wrong, it is the people of Limerick, in particular the traders, who will suffer,” he said.
Any increase in staff will have to be ratified by the manager of the local authorities Conn Murray.
At the same meeting this week, the council agreed to look at plans to introduce free parking for the Christmas and New Year period.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hourigan put forward a motion, seconded by Cllr Diarmuid Scully, that there be free parking from 2pm on Limerick’s streets each day in the run up to Christmas.
With a response due from City Hall in the next fortnight, Cllr Hourigan says it needs to be confirmed as soon as possible.
“It is now that the business people are going to want to start advertising. We should let them know there will be free parking before and after Christmas,” he said.
Limerick City Council will also look at converting some loading bays to parking spaces in the city on the busiest trading days.
Cllr Maria Byrne is to speak on this matter.