Newbridge traders fight for fairer pay parking

Over 100 businesses in Newbridge signed a submission in the last month to urge the Council to change the town’s pay parking regulations.

Over 100 businesses in Newbridge signed a submission in the last month to urge the Council to change the town’s pay parking regulations.

Local shop owners are afraid that the town centre is losing business because of the draconian pay parking measures in place in the town. Newbridge’s new draft pay parking bye-laws are currently on display and the public has been invited to make submissions on them before they are written into law.

The businesses want to see an hour’s free parking introduced in the town centre so that their customers can go about their business without fear of being fined by the parking wardens. The council proposes making just the first 15 minutes parking free.

They also want to see a much lower parking fee scale introduced, whereby customers would pay a maximum of E1 for up to two hours parking. The bye-laws propose a much stiffer scale, with a E1 fee payable for just an hour’s parking in the town centre.

The local business hours also want to see pay parking eliminated on Saturday afternoon in order to attract busniess to shops on the Main Street, plus additional reductions in charges for longer-stay and all-day car parking.

The petition has been organised by an ad-hoc committee of local businesspeople, who say that the moves are crucial if Newbridge town centre businesses are to compete with the big shopping centres and stores on the periphery of the town.

Local businesses feel their customers are under stress and worry about being caught by the parking wardens as they shop. A large cross section of companies are supporting the campaign, including Bank of Ireland and AIB as well as dentists, travel agents, grocery stores, hairdressers and bars. Parish Priest Fr Joe McDermott has also lent his support.

“The big thing is that customers feel intimidated, they feel they have to run and put their 10c into the machine. If they felt that they had an hour free to do their business, they would be much more relaxed,” said Dermot Kelly of Kelly’s Opticians.

Long-established Newbridge barber Joe Kelly agrees that pay parking has become a massive issue on the town.

He says that businesses are suffering around George’s Street, where he is located.

“People haven’t got time to wait. If they come in and you happen to be busy, they are checking their watches constantly. There’s no comfort in coming down the town with the system there is. If we could get that hour [free] for them, it would make it more customer friendly.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to have any say in the parking situation, and we’ve been invited to put in submissions for the review. If we don’t put them in, we’ve got no voice. Hopefully, we’ll get supported by politicians.”

The businesspeople stress that they are not against pay-parking itself. They argue that any loss in revenue to the Council will be made up for by businesses being able to survive and continue to pay their commercial rates.

They also want to see increasing penalties for the breaches of bye-laws.

Their submissions will be made to Kildare County Council by July 20. Local companies who have not yet signed and would like to do so, can drop into committee members Dermot Kelly of Kelly Opticians, Joe Kelly of Joe Kelly Barbers; Katriona O’Driscoll of Kidstuff; Rhoda Curran of Donal’s; Jimmy Cosgrove of Cosgrove’s Chemist; Terry McCormack of Terry Michael’s or Donal Hurley of An Chistin.

They can also search for ‘Fair Parking in Newbridge’ on Facebook.