PORTARLINGTON wants what Portlaoise has in demanding a half hour free street parking in a measure to boost town centre trading.
And although Laois County Council officials warned of the financial implications and how the reduced revenues could impact on the delivery of services, the county councillors were adamant that a half hour free parking was required.
Cllr Ray Cribbin said Port had a population of 9,000 people and that a lot of businesses were trying to survive.
“We need a half hour free parking like Portlaoise. People get a ticket straight away when they park on Main Street. What is good enough for Portlaoise is good enough for Portarlington,” he said.
Director of Services Kieran Kehoe contradicted the assertion that motorists get a ticket straight away pointing out that it can take the traffic warden 10 to 15 minutes before he records a particular vehicle and he goes away for another fifteen minutes before a ticket may be issued.
Cllr James Deegan demanded “like with like” but Mr Kehoe again emphasised that there is ‘at least fifteen minutes’ before the first recognition of a vehicle and said there would be financial implications as the revenue generated from parking fees helps provide funding for lighting and resurfacing works. He also explained that half hour free parking applies only to certain parts of Portlaoise.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Paul Mitchell believed the move would help Port traders.
“The traders are looking for this. They feel discriminated against,” he said.
Senior Executive Engineer Orla Barrett said the Council needs money and that a motorists only receives a ticket straight away if they are illegally parked on a footpath or double yellow lines.
“The standard practice is that the motorist has fifteen minutes once they are legally parked,” she said.
She also suggested parking is cheap locally relative to Dublin prices or in the larger provincial towns.
Cllr Cribbin said that 85 people, including many traders, attended a recent meeting and agreed the need for a half hour free parking. Some people want and hour he claimed.
“We don’t want to fight with you on this but we need to compromise,” he said.
Cllr Deegan said the fifteen minutes was not advertised and was done with a nod and a wink.
“A stranger coming in town certainly doesn’t know there is leeway of fifteen minutes. I’m not a person of nervous disposition but I’d worry if I parked my car in Portarlington and was away from it from a few minutes, that I’d come back to find a ticket on it. We are only looking for like with like,” he said.
The councillors agreed to put a motion calling for the free half hour will be put before a future County Council meeting