Employees of retail businesses in Naas have been urged not to park their vehicles all day to avail of free parking on Saturdays, starting on October 5.
The move, agreed unanimously by all 9 members of Naas Town Council, effectively permits free parking every weekend for the foreseeable future because parking charges are not levied on Sundays or public holidays.
However the initiative does not necessarily include private car parks which operate all the year round and are penalised by clamping accompanied by a €120 release fee.
However private car park operators are being asked to follow suit in a bid to bring more people into Naas to shop.
The council’s decision follows pressure from businesses, the North Kildare Chamber and some politicians who believe that out of town shopping centres, where no parking charges apply, have been draining business from the town.
NKC campaigned for free parking for two hours (9-11am) daily but most councillors felt that all day on Saturday would be a better idea because some shops don’t open until after 10am and people bringing children to school would not stay on to shop.
The decision will mean a loss of €27,000 to the council’s coffers until the end of the year and this will be recouped elsewhere within the 2013 budget.
Cllr. Rioghnagh Bracken said retailers should tell their staff not to take up parking spaces while Cllr. Willie Callaghan urged the council to erect on signs on approach roads announcing that no charges apply on Saturdays.
Cllr. Darren Scully noted that all the councillors agreed adding that something has to be done to re-engage shoppers.
He added that pay parking could not be abolished entirely - unless rates ware to be increased.