Laois County Council has confirmed that Bull Lane will not be closed off as part of the plans to improve traffic management and pedestrian safety in Portlaoise’s Lyster Square, nor will there be the previously proposed reduction of over 30 parking spaces.
The news emerged at the recent meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, during a discussion on the council’s major plans for Portlaoise under a far-reaching strategy designed to bring investment back into the town over the next 40 years.
Councillors at the meeting in County Hall described as exciting a public realm strategy proposed by director of services, Mr Kieran Kehoe. Though still in the early stages, Mr Kehoe said the strategy would bring life back into Portlaoise with plans being laid out for the next 30 to 40 years.
Among the first projects to be dealt with is traffic management and pedestrian safety in Lyster Square. Mr Kieran Kehoe said that the council had received 25 submissions concerning the plans for Lyster Square, with concerns raised about the proposed closure of Bull Lane and the reduction of car parking.
Mr Kehoe said that it had now been decided not to close Bull Lane, and the number of parking spaces would only be reduced by six, not the 33 originally proposed. He also said that there were short term proposals to address safety in the area by installing pedestrian crossings.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said that people had expressed concerns about the public seating in Lyster Square which was the scene of antisocial behaviour, but she insisted that public seating was needed.
“We have to put every effort we can into getting investment into the town,” she said.
On the issue of public seating, Cllr Willie Aird said: “We can’t bow to antisocial behaviour. If we bow to it we should just put gates at the top and the bottom (of the town) and forget about it.”
Cllr Aird expressed his delight that the plans for Lyster Square had met with 99% agreement, and remarked that once the markings for the pedestrians crossings were in place the councillors should have a meeting to discuss the proposals.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley welcomed the news that Bull Lane would not be closed off, nor would the parking spaces be reduced.
Mr Kehoe explained that the plans were part of a public realm strategy that covers the full town of Portlaoise.
“It’s about what we can do to bring life back into the town, this is an exciting time for the town and we have a 30 to 40 year strategy,” he said.
Cllr Fitzgerald agreed that the overall possibilities for Portlaoise were very exciting and it was up to the councillors to push this ahead.
“It will all come down to money, but at least we have a plan,” she said.