BUSINESS groups in both Bandon and Kinsale, as well as politicians, have called for a ‘level playing field’ when it comes to pay parking.
The call comes following confirmation from Cork County Council that pay parking is set to return to both towns after a two-year absence. The towns are the only two in West Cork that operate pay parking and it’s something that they wish would change.
Hilary Farrell, chair of the Bandon Business Association (BBA) told The Southern Star they are very disappointed that pay parking is being reinstated in the town.
‘We have been lobbying Cork County Council to provide more car park spaces in the town and especially with the T-PREP (Transport Public Realm Enhancement Plan) coming on stream they will be removing a lot of car park spaces across the town,’ said Hilary.
She admits the break in parking charges during most of the lockdown was very beneficial to the town and is calling for a level playing field for all towns. ‘Towns like Clonakilty have free parking but Bandon and Kinsale don’t. We are trying to entice people into the town to shop and it should be one rule for all and it’s just not fair.’
Hilary is calling on the Council to look at the bigger picture. ‘We are a market and trading town and we need free parking for shoppers and workers and we certainly saw the benefit of the suspension of pay parking during Covid and we would appreciate if this could be looked at again.’
Cllr Sean O’Donovan said the reintroduction of charges was disappointing. ‘I’m totally against this decision and it’s really not fair when other towns in West Cork don’t have pay parking. Yet again local government is being undermined,’ said Cllr O’Donovan, who had previously raised a motion at the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District calling for a suspension of pay parking.
Liam Edwards, chair of Kinsale Tourism and Business, said pay parking is something that they got used to pre-Covid, but said they are now annoyed that this system is only returning to a few towns in Cork.
‘We also feel the revenue from pay parking should be put in use to improve the infrastructure of the town and the traffic flow, as well as investing in extra car parking spaces.’ FG member and Kinsale coffee shop owner Cllr Marie O’Sullivan said that free parking was very welcome over the past two years. ‘However, dynamics have changed now, and we need to see a turnover in car parking spaces and the only way of doing this efficiently is by introducing pay parking,’ she said.
‘Myself and my colleagues on our Municipal District are insisting that money generated from the pay parking would be spent in the town where it is collected,’ she added.