Parking in county council car parks has been hit by free parking at the two major shopping centres in Portlaoise and resulted in the closure of a council car park which opened just two years ago, the county manager admitted recently.
The Council were forced to close the underground car park at the Plaza, as it was not being used, Mr Peter Carey told councillors at the recent meeting of Laois County Council
Cllr John Moran had asked the council why parking at the Plaza at County Hall was not being used.
“The usage has dropped. The new shopping centre has 300 free spaces and the Kyle Centre has around 200 parking spaces. There has been a drop in activity,” Mr Carey said.
At a guess, Mr Carey said there was around 50% occupancy in the council run car parks in the town.
Cllr Moran asked about the effect the half hour free parking was having. Mr Carey said the fees from parking had dropped a lot.
“That was to facilitate someone dropping in to town for a paper,” he explained.
Cllr Kathleen O’Brien said the half hour free parking was working well now, after confusion in the beginning.
She said the council could no longer justify paying security to keep the underground car park open when it wasn’t being used.
“The council had to close the underground car park as it wasn’t being used and was being vandalised. They couldn’t justify paying security. But I have been assured that it will open when there is a use for it.”
Cllr Tom Mulhall said there was confusion in Portarlington as to whether the half hour free parking applied to that town also.
“It’s a wonderful facility and a half hour would be adequate. But the people in Port are in doubt about it. I would strongly recommend that the council do it in Port also. We want to attract as many people as possible to the businesses on Main Street,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cllr Ray Cribbin said the parking in Port “was not too bad.”
“The traffic warden is doing his job, there are very few giving out,” he said.