Councillors and council officials are at loggerheads over the introduction of 30 minutes free parking for shoppers in Newbridge this Christmas.
Speaking at the Kildare Area Committee meeting last Wednesday November 21, Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin said it would help people who were driving into Newbridge on short errands, such as picking up a pair of glasses, or getting a prescription. Cllr. Spike Nolan said he had also been contacted by concerned business owners about the issue.
Cllr. O’Loughlin suggested a decal (cover) be placed on the metres and that it should run for 14 days up to Christmas day. She said Naas and Athy were introducing a Christmas grace period.
Acting Director of Services, Sonia Kavanagh said it was something councillors should consider very carefully and that Newbridge was different to other towns. She said the aim of pay parking was to encourage the turnover of parking spaces. She said the majority of people who came to Newbridge wanted to spend a number of hours in the town and they would only have to return to the car within the thirty minutes to place a ticket on it. She said if parking was not regulated closely, it could lead to traffic tailbacks. She said it was very difficult to regulate the 30 minutes grace period.
“It is the one town in the county that we have to ensure regulation is very very tight around Christmas to ensure people can get into the town and get a parking space to do their shopping,” she said.
Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin said the 30 minutes grace would facilitate convienence shoppers.
Cllr. Suzanne Doyle said surely the 30 minutes free parking would encourage the turnover of spaces because people would vacate the space within half hour to avoid having to pay. Cllr. Spike Nolan said he was annoyed if Newbridge was going to be over policed or singled out for pay parking revenue.
Miss Kavanagh said that was not the case, and that pay parking was used to generate more parking space in the town. She pointed out that the pay parking scheme in the county was actually losing money. Cllr. Nolan said Newbridge was the only town making money on it.
Cllr. O’Loughlin accepted the scheme was used to free up space but she said; “We do have a situation here where we have to stand up for the concerns of the people we represent, both the business people and the consumers. I am proposing now, starting from December 8, the day we turn on the Christmas lights in Newbridge, that we have a 30 minute grace up to Christmas day and that decals be put on all the metres,” she said.
The motion was passed.