FREE parking is coming to Athy this Christmas as its council drops charges to attract more customers.
Athy Town Council will introduce free parking at all its locations in the south Kildare town seven days a week to boost trade following a request from Athy Chamber of Commerce.
All nine Athy councillors ignored their town manager’s advice and voted in favour of free parking at last week’s meeting.
“It will result in all-day parking that will not help business,” noted town manager Joe Boland.
“We need to give businesses a chance,” said Cllr Thomas Redmond. “Businesses are struggling to pay rates and this will bring new business into Athy.”
Cllr John Lawler said three businesses had closed in the last month. He said free parking would send out a positive message.
Cathairleach Cllr Richard Daly said it cannot be certain it will boost business but it sends out good signal.
Cllr Aoife Breslin said the council needs to show goodwill and she supported the move.
Cllr Mark Wall said he would like to get feedback to see if the free parking will increase business. “Business people are drowning out there and we need to do something,” said Cllr Dalton.
Cllr Mary O’Sullivan also urged people to shop locally in what is the biggest spend time of the year.
“We need to stop the talk,” said Cllr Mick Dunne. “We talked about this for hours last day and we agreed what we were going to do. We need to give businesses a chance.”
It was agreed to all to suspend pay parking from 5-31 December. “There will be financial implications,” warned Mr Boland.