Shoppers’ free parking questioned by city council

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

FREE parking at the Crescent and other suburban shopping centres could be targeted if Limerick City Council approves a call to introduce charges at any shopping centre served by public transport.

FREE parking at the Crescent and other suburban shopping centres could be targeted if Limerick City Council approves a call to introduce charges at any shopping centre served by public transport.

At a meeting of the transport policy committee, transport consultant James Nix said that employers group IBEC was in favour of such a proposal.

He said that it had been agreed at a workshop of the committee that they would write to Ministers Phil Hogan and Michael Noonan “to implement charging for parking at shopping centres which are served by a bus route”.

“IBEC supports this; we do have business backing for this,” Mr Nix said during the latest debate on parking at Limerick City Council.

Councillors have frequently said city centre businesses are at a disadvantage through the availability of free parking at out-of-town retail sites.

The proposed letter to the ministers was one of a number of actions Mr Nix said had been agreed at the workshop and which should now be advanced.

Other measures outlined by Mr Nix included a proposal to the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to allow trucks through the Limerick Tunnel for free to cut down on the number of trucks using the Condell Road to avoid the toll; and writing to Bus Eireann looking to increase frequencies of service in the run-up to Christmas.

Cllr Diarmuid Scully argued that some of the proposals outlined by Mr Nix were premature.

“I wasn’t at that workshop. Some of the measures I agree with; others I don’t; while I’d like more detail on others,” Cllr Scully said.

Cllr Pat Kennedy also said that “technical advice” should first be sought in relation to some of the proposals, which he regarded as “quite sweeping” in nature.

With the agreement of the committee, director of service Paul Crowe said the letter to Bus Eireann looking to increase frequencies could be sent immediately. But it was agreed to refer the proposed letters on parking charges at shopping centres to a full meeting of the council.

Cllr Joe Leddin said that with so many debates on Limerick’s supposedly prohibitive parking regime, there was a danger of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

“We have in the region of 6,000 on-street and off-street parking spaces in the city which are very competitively priced and yet again we are talking about parking as if it were the single biggest issue in the city. It is not,” he said. The council should be more focused on improving the retail offering or facilitating the development of a cinema in the city centre. “Let’s focus on these and similar issues and once they are addressed, the parking issue will go out the window,” he declared.