PAid parking has become a ‘cash cow’ for the council, a Portlaoise councillor told a Town Council meeting last week.
There was confusion at last week’s meeting as to whether the first half hour was still free.
Cllr Kathleen O’Brien said there was confusion over the free half hour and whether it still applied. It took two council executives and a number of phone calls to confirm that the free half hour parking was still in place.
“We are the premier body in Laois, there are nine of us in here today and nobody knows,” Cllr Willie Aird said.
Councillors also expressed their disappointment that people did not know about the free parking on the Saturday before Christmas.
Cllr Aird called on the council to provide free parking on Saturdays for January and February as a pilot scheme.
The parking bye-law committee will review the free half hour parking in the next week and will discuss providing free Saturday parking.
In a written reply, Pat Delaney told last week’s meeting of Portlaoise Town Council that the roads department hopes to have the review completed in the next week, following discussions with the council’s traffic warden.
“Paid parking had become a ‘cash cow’ for the local authority. Pay parking was never set up to be a revenue collection for Laois County Council, it was set up to ensure the free flow of parking,” Cllr Aird noted.
Cllr Aird said the council should be open to co-operating with other groups involved in the promotion of Portlaoise. He said they had to look at other ways of promoting the town.
“If it doesn’t work out we can always try something else,” he added.
Cllr Caroline Dwane said she could see the difference the half hour free parking made over the Christmas period.
“Main Street and the side streets are in competition with the shopping centres. I think free parking on Saturday is a great idea, any incentive to keep people in Portlaoise,” she said.
Cllr O’Brien said the traders reported that the free half hour parking had been very successful. However, she said that there would need to be some sort of traffic management in Lyster Square.
Cllr Matthew Keegan said it was time to think outside the box. He said the free Saturday had only come at the last minute, but he had let the chairman of the Downtown committee know. He admitted that the decision had been made too late.
Cllr Rotimi Adebari said he had to tell at least five people who were about to buy tickets that there was free parking on that day.
“The machines should have been deactivated or signs put on them,” he said.