Kilkenny parking review by ‘next World Cup’, quips councillor

Council criticised over lack of urgency on parking charges with more consultants to be appointed

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Market Yard car park in the heart of Kilkenny city.

Market Yard car park in the heart of Kilkenny city.

A councillor has hit out at the pace of change with regard to Kilkenny City’s current parking charge system with many businesses bemoaning the tariffs and seeking one-hour free parking.

Cllr Patrick McKee was speaking at this month’s City Municipal District meeting and criticised local representatives who try to “play every side”.

The members engaged in heated debate about a motion - which passed by a majority vote - calling for a report to review City Centre parking charges. Cllr David Fitzgerald tabled the motion which he said would allow members to introduce reduced parking charges at off peak times. It would also support shoppers, retailers, small businesses and employment while maintaining overall parking income to fund services.

Cllr Joe Malone said he would welcome the review but said he “did not know how long it was going to go on for” to which Cllr Patrick McKee retorted by “the next World Cup”, which is four years away. The notice of motion comes after Cllr McKee’s motion for one hour’s free parking in the Market Yard Car Park was defeated by two votes, with four of the twelve councillors not present during the vote, at the June meeting. Both motions were brought on foot of a public meeting earlier this year, 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. Cllr McKee said there was an “urgency” to the parking charge situation and his motion did not receive enough support to pass at the June meeting. He said members and the executive needed to “get real and not call public meetings or reviews”.

“I don’t think a review will be welcomed by the public,” he added and then withdrew his support for the motion.

Cllr Fitzgerald said the review is to turn suggestions from the public meeting into a “cost neutral” reality and a proper study is needed. “The public request that we have a serious look at parking charges,” Cllr Fitzgerald added. Senior engineer Simon Walton said in June that if one hour’s free parking was introduced in the Market Yard Car Park, the likely impact on revenue would be in the region of €300,000 - something which deterred a number of members from voting in favour of Cllr McKee’s motion. However, at this month’s meeting he told members that he “cobbled together” the figure that would indicate the cost of the motion and it was based on a “cursory examination”.

He recommended the Council undertake an independent review and members come up with a “formula of words” by the end of August to procure someone to carry out the study. Mayor Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said “cost neutral” are the important words with regard to changes to parking charge so that services are not impacted. The latest study will come after a parking options assessment was commissioned by the Council and published earlier this year.

The report recommended that the “pricing structure” of long-term parking in the City Centre should be assessed.