A number of traders in Newbridge feel let down after news that newly-adopted pay parking bye-laws will increase all day parking to €6 a day in the GAA long-stay car park.
An ad-hoc committee of 116 traders disputed the council’s initital proposal to increase the all-day parking from €3.50 plus VAT to €5 plus VAT.
They sent a submission into the council last year, and 116 businesses in the town signed a petition to back the submission.
The new pay-parking bye-laws will instead enforce a significant price increase for all day parking.
“We are worried about footfall down this end of town,” said local optician Dermot Kelly. “It’s €4 a day to park in the private car parks.”
Barber Joe Kelly said the price hike would have a negative effect on businesses.
“Sixteen of those businesses listed in the petition are now gone,” he said. “Kildare County Council don’t listen. We asked to get a concession for Saturday parking like Naas, Athy and Kildare Town, which has free parking in the afternoon. We haven’t been represented by the politicans. Newbridge is used as a cash cow for the rest of the county.”
Cllr Fiona O’Loughlin said that it was never the intention to charge €6 an hour for a full day’s parking, adding that the free Saturday parking for Naas was a new incentive which was not part of the new bye-laws for Newbridge.
“I have been in contact with the officials on this,” she said. “It was never our intention. We cannot stand over it. We will have to try and find a protocol of dealing with it.”
One concession granted to the traders however is that pay-parking in Newbridge will commence one hour later, from 8.30am to 9.30am, and 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
But traders dubbed this a “non-business hours’ concession”.
Parkers can also stay for two hours instead of one on Main Street at €1 per hour.
“We want the council to meet us half way on this,” added Mr Kelly. “The footfall will drop away – there is no incentive to park [in the town]. The area committee made a representation for this to go to full council. As businesses, we feel let down.
“One councillor told me that he ‘must have taken his eye of the ball’ on this matter. The council is sending out threatening letters to pay the rates, but we can’t pay our rates if we have no customers. The council is not looking at this from the businesses point of view – it is now a revenue collecting exercise.”
Kildare County Council spokesperson Annette Aspell confirmed that under the new pay-parking bye-laws it will cost €6 for all day parking “in line with other Council operated all day car parks in the rest of the County”.
“However, if you purchase a monthly permit – €60.50 per month inclusive of 21% vat – the daily cost of parking works out at €2.52 per day, if using the car park 6 days a week or €3.03 per day, if using the car park 5 days a week.
“There is no commencement date for the newly-adopted pay-parking bye-laws for Newbridge due to civil works to be carried out in the town centre which need to be completed before the new lines and signs are installed.
“The GAA car park tariff rates from the first 15 minutes – 0.20c for first 15 minutes – up to two hour parking – €2.00 – has not changed.
She added that VAT applies to all public car parks and is recoupable from the Revenue. “The Councils VAT number is printed on all car park tickets and car park permits to allow the motorist to claim back the VAT.”
Last summer, during a crisis meeting by traders at Sarsfield GAA, Councillor Micheal ‘Spike’ Nolan gave his committment to the traders on pay parking. He spoke to the Leinster Leader at the time and said that the council had to get it right for the traders.
“The traders’ submission has gone in – I am supporting that submission – it is of my view that this could work, ” he said at the meeting. “We have to get it right for the traders, and we have to get it right for the council as well.”
He was not available for comment at the time of going to press.