Traders demand parking concessions in city centre

Saturday free parking would be starting point

THE absence of spaces, and the costs involved in parking in high-rise parking lots, are significant factors in deterring customers from coming to town.

So say city centre business owners.

The majority surveyed believed it was not necessarily the current economic climate that was off-putting but rather the difficulty in parking, and the cost factor involved.

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Gerry Clancy of Clancy’s Electrical, suggested that The City Council should introduce the regulated free parking system used in Europe.

“In Germany, France and the UK, they have introduced a disc parking system in which the first hour is available free to commuters in the cities. They then pay for subsequent hours. This would be a great incentive to bring people into the city as many people can go about their business within the hour”.

Gerry continued: “Businesses are continuing to close down in the city. There are eight empty retail units on O’Connell Street alone, a further four on Shannon Street and six on William Street, which is indicative of the economy”

However, he also holds the opinion that the council should be doing their bit in encouraging retailers to rent in the city.

He said: “Rent is cheaper in the city than it would be in shopping centres like The Crescent, which is a great incentive for businesses, but The Council rates are always rising. They would want to curb the increases, or Limerick city will be like a ghost town”.

In Carraig Donn, on O’Connell Street, manager, Tara Cribbin, agrees that free parking in the city would be beneficial to central businesses.

“Free parking on a Saturday would really bring people back to the city,” she said. “The shopping centres are at a real advantage as they have free parking all day every day. Despite that, our businesses in The Crescent, the city and Jetland, are all doing equally well”.

The Limerick Post found that Neville’s Shoes was buzzing. Office manager, Elaine O’Brien, commented that business was good for them but noted that ease of parking along with cheaper parking, would be beneficial to the city.

“We have a great sale going on at the moment so business is booming,” she said, but added: “It’s not only expensive to park in the city but it’s also difficult to find a space.

“I think the Council should organise some events and more markets to bring a positive atmosphere to the city. They should show us that they are making an effort to bring people into the city.

“The pedestrianised streets are great though, and make the city safer for consumers”.

 Paul Frawley, manager of Black Tie on O’Connell Street, was in no doubt that free parking would definitely be advantageous for customers.

“Customers find it frustrating that they can’t find parking outside the shop, They have to drive off looking for somewhere to park and we lose business because of it. A free parking facility outside the shop on a Saturday would definitely help”.

Roches Street traders have all come together to do their bit in attracting customers. Sheila Cusack of Helene Modes,’ explained; “Through the Traders Association, we have banded together to hold a wedding fair involving a number of events. We will also be taking part in a walk to raise money for the Red Cross. I think it’s great that we are all pulling together to bring business to the city”.

However, she says it’s expensive to park in the city, when you do eventually find parking.

“I think the Council should definitely introduce free parking on Saturdays. In Newcastlewest, the first hour is free, and I feel even that would make a huge difference to people if it were implemented in the city”.

In Bentleys cafe on O’Connell street manager, Dave Mullowney, was another advocate of free parking.

“I think parking should be free all the time in the city, as it is in the shopping centres. People are being driven away from the city due to the sky high parking fees; you would have to pay 18 euro for a full day in some of the parking lots”.

Mr. Mullowney did agree that the pedestrianisation was an incentive for customers.. “It’s definitely a great bonus for the city and makes it safer for everyone,” he said. “Patrick Street should also be pedestrianised, and some events or social activities would also bring in the punters”.

In general, businesses found that things were on a par with February 2008, with all coping well in the current climate.