Paid parking in Kildare town could be scrapped if wide-ranging changes to the current byelaws agreed last week between local councillors and officials don’t stimulate businesses in the town.
Such was the success of free parking in the town over the Christmas period, that councillors have now both reduced the cost of paid parking and limited its hours.
At a special meeting to discuss the matter last Tuesday morning, March 6, it was agreed that all on and off street parking will now be 80 cents per hour.
Parking will be free on Saturdays and during the week, the hours of paid parking will be 9am to 5pm.
And Cllr. Suzanne Doyle warned: “If this doesn’t stimulate retail, the next step will be to remove it.
“This is the last chance saloon for paid parking.”
The members of Kildare Area Committee were conscious of the need to bring business and customers back into the town centre after the development of Kildare Village and the newly opened Tesco.
This is not to say that they blame Tesco for taking business from the town centre. As Cllr. Tony McDonnell put it, “the damage was already done before Tesco opened, with the paid parking”.
Cllr. Francis Brown explained that the current parking regime was causing great stress to people using the health centre. “They’re in and out putting tickets on their cars,” he said, and asked that some concessions be made for that area.
There was some discussion about whether paid parking in Kildare town was self-financing, but officials explained that the parking for Newbridge and Kildare was taken as the same administrative area.
Newbridge-based councillors had a concern that reducing both the hours and the cost of parkingin Kildare could have a detrimental effect on business in Newbridge, and irritate business people there.
“We need to urge caution,” Cllr. Spike Nolan remarked. But Kildare-based Cllr. Suzanne Doyle remarked that it was two different situations. “It’s fish and fowl.
“I’ll go to every meeting in Newbridge with you and take all the flack!”
She called for the elimination of all taxi-bays in the town, noting that hackney operators in Kildare are rate-payers.
She also called for the removal of bottle banks, given that there are private operators.
Other changes will improve parking space for coaches bringing tourists as well as encouraging people to buy monthly permits.