The proposal was defeated by two votes at the June meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District
A proposal to introduce one hour’s free parking in Kilkenny City was defeated by two votes, with four councillors not present during the vote, at the June meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District.
The Notice of Motion was brought on foot of a recent ‘town hall’ meeting, where introducing one hour’s free parking was one of the suggestions endorsed by some business owners as a measure to help city centre retailers and boost trade. Others, however, have expressed concern over the impact it could have on the local authority’s budget, which was adopted last November.
“The objective is to incentivise people coming into the city centre,” said Cllr Patrick McKee, who brought the Notice of Motion.
Cllr Breda Gardner said she would support the motion, as she thought it was fair. Cllr Michael Doyle said there were other issues such as online shopping affecting businesses, and he personally did not think 'one-hour free parking in the Market Yard is going to help traders’.
“That’s my opinion,” he said.
“We are always looking for stuff to be done right across the county — we need to have a budget as well.
“If it's passed, it’s passed, but one hour free is going to do absolutely nothing for businesses in Kilkenny.”
Cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said he was conscious of the budgetary constraints imposed on the members, including the annual budget for 2018 which was passed in November 2017, based on projected income.
“What kind of income shortfall would be coming if we introduced one-hour free parking, as we have already set the budget and it would impact that?” he asked.
Cllr Kennedy said that his colleague had been going to support the motion, but he himself was ‘on the fence’.
“An hour a day - how much a year are we going to be down? he asked.
“If introduce [one hour free parking], is it going to raise Rates to cover the money we were getting?"
Cllr Matt Doran said he shared the concerns of his colleagues.
Cllr Patrick O’ Neill said it was ‘ridiculous’ that Rates were not based on turnover for retailers, but that an hour’s free parking might be a good gesture.
Senior engineer Simon Walton said that the principal reason parking charges were originally introduced in the city was to benefit local businesses.
“It wasn’t purely to collect revenue —it was to ensure turnover of spaces,” he said.
Mr Walton said that if one hour’s free parking was introduced in the Market Yard carpark, the likely impact on revenue would be in the region of €300,000. He added that there was also the question of how it would be enforced or monitored.
Mr Walton acknowledged that ‘time has moved on and the challenges facing the city centre have changed’. He said parking charges may play a part in addressing some of these, but a number of issues needed to be considered, rather than a ‘knee jerk reaction’.
Director of services Tim Butler said if passed, it would have to come before the full council as it would mean reducing the council’s budget by €300,000, or finding that money elsewhere.
A vote was taken on the Notice of Motion.
For: Cllrs Breda Gardner, Patrick McKee, Patrick O’ Neill;
Against: Cllrs Peter Cleere, Matt Doran, Michael Doyle, David Kennedy, Joe Malone;
Absent: Cllrs David Fitzgerald, Andrew McGuinness, Malcolm Noonan, Sean Tyrrell.
The Notice of Motion was not carried, having been defeated by five votes to three.