LIMERICK City Council made a profit of almost €1m on parking enforcement in 2013, new figures have shown.
City businessman Michael O’Connor has accused the council of “tearing the gut out of” small firms, after statistics obtained by the Limerick Leader revealed the council generated €1.7m from traffic fines and sales of parking discs.
In return the local authority paid out around €798,920.
This leaves a profit of €960,334 - and business owners say they are counting the cost.
Many have cited the speed at which parking tickets - which carry an initial €40 fine - are handed out as one of the reasons trade in the centre has dropped.
Limerick City Council paid out some €273,858 in wages to five traffic wardens last year, while it spent €13,000 on ‘uniforms and equipment’ for the enforcement staff, the latest accounts show.
City Council also spent €188,000 on a new traffic fine management system, although this was a once-off payment.
Mr O’Connor - who has traded at his menswear store in Catherine Street for almost 30 years - said he was unsurprised by the figures.
“Nothing surprises me with Limerick City Council: they have been doing everything wrong. I am not afraid of saying it: they have torn the gut out of small businesses in Limerick.”
He added: “Our turnover is down. There is myself, and two staff with young families. We were looking to take a third member of staff on, but have not been able to do so.”
Michael Gleeson, of Gleeson’s Shoes in William Street, called for a fresh approach to the problem of parking.
Now Limerick City Council is effectively merged with County Council, he thinks that co-operation should lead to a park and ride facility in the suburbs.
Failing this, he said: “Clean up eight derelict sites in Limerick and provide free car parking there for two or three years: I think we would get trade and footfall back into Limerick then.”
He admitted he is scared traffic wardens “frighten people off”.
“The inspectors have been very active, and have been about very early in the morning, when it doesn’t seem that necessary,” he told the Limerick Leader.