PATRONS at the Potato Market car park, adjoining the Limerick Courthouse, have expressed outrage at what they described as a “heavy handed approach” by a designated parking control management company in clamping vehicles outside the time limit.
However, in defence, David O’Mahony, chairman of the Market Trustees, had previously pointed out that at least a 20 minute period of grace was allowed before vehicles were clamped.
He told this newspaper earlier this year that the Potato Market, through the Market Trustees, was operated as a car park to generate revenue.
He added that no revenue was gained from clamping and that Mid West Parking Control, was contracted to regulate any abuse by motorists.
In recent weeks, jury members attending the Circuit Court at Merchants Quay, court clerks and solicitors alike, were clamped as were many members of the general public.
One complained to the Limerick Post: “My ticket lapsed by 15 minutes… I was on business in the courthouse and when I came out, my car was clamped. There was a big yellow thing on the side of my wheel, a sticker on my window and a demand to fork out money to get released. I mean, 15 minutes and I had already put over a €5 in the machine”.
She alleged she got no satisfaction when she spoke to the parties involved.
A solicitor at a High Court sitting in the adjoining Limerick Courthouse, said that she was hardly going to ask the judge if she could leave to put money in the meter.
There are seven signs displayed advising a €90 release fee for illegally parked cars.
A spokesperson for Mid West Parking Control said: “We operate at car parks that we are contracted to. We have signs stating that it is pay and display. We follow the owners rules”.
An announcement posted at the car park states: “Patrons must display their ticket upright and it is in their interest that they put enough money in the machine to cover the period of time they expect to be in the car park. You cannot pay any excess when you return”.
There is a a minimum payment of €1.50 per hour. A charge of €50 applies for out of hours callouts.
It was claimed by a company staff member that one employee wears a protective vest against attack, because of the alleged level of anger and intimidation shown by motorists who have been clamped. Surveillance cameras are also in operation.
Independent cllr, John Gilligan, said when he was chairman of the Market Trustees he was against clamping in the car park.
“It’s antisocial and should be barred. During my time it was many from the legal profession that snooted parking fees and felt disgruntled that they were asked to pay. It was a major problem and although I was very much against it, it was needed”.
He wants the entire area overhauled and put to a better civic use.
“Limerick deserves a city plaza and we should have one. The walls around the Potato Market could be taken down to a reasonable height and the bars and gates recycled elsewhere. We need a new home for our city library and museum and the long-term plan would be to develop this area, but we should develop the square as a whole. We could have a signature work of art to commemorate the Vikings as first settlers here and Brian Boru as the first high king of Ireland”.
Syringes and hypodermic needles have been found in the vicinity of the car park.
Patrons who contacted the Limerick Post were shocked to experience this form of anti social behaviour, and echoed the calls of cllr Gilligan to put the area to a better civic use.
* The Limerick Post has learned that since the end of July, the clamp release fee imposed by Mid West Parking Control Systems was reduced from €120 and the period of grace extended to one hour at the Potato Market car park.