LIMERICK’S Free from Three parking initiative is being reviewed after traders complained that workers based in the city were blocking spaces.
The scheme allows shoppers the chance to come in after 3pm and park for nothing on the streets. But questions were asked this week about why it is ending on Christmas Eve, while in previous years, it closed on January 6.
Councillors – most notably Fine Gael’s Maria Byrne – called for the scheme to be re-extended, saying: “We are competing with out of town shopping centres, and we need to be on a level playing field with them.”
Metropolitan district council boss Kieran Lehane pledged to review the situation to see if a solution could be found – but he warned there would be a “matching cost” to extending the scheme into January.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader this Tuesday, Mr Lehane said the local authority is still considering proposals to extend the scheme in this way.
But, he added, having spoken with traders, not all of them are in favour of the Free from Three initiative.
He said: “There are other considerations including how effective it has been. We are doing a survey among traders to ascertain their views. One thing which has emerged from the people we have spoken with is the Free from Three initiative is actually blocking access for people who want to come in.”
Mr Lehane added: “While it is attractive, the people in the spaces are tending to remain in them. Other people coming into the city are then not finding on-street spaces, and the multi-storey car parks are full. So it is having a blocking effect. What you have to do is take into account what the majority of people want,” he added.
Cllr Byrne is confident there will be some “dispensation” for traders between Christmas Eve and January 6, she is not sure what form this may take.
“I think some of the business’s employees take up spaces all day. So I think there needs to be compromise both sides,” she said.