Parking restrictions are set to come into place in Mountrath this summer will be accompanied to upgrade work to existing parking in the town.
Laois County Council is also progressing a plan to extend restrictions to restrictions to Abbeyleix and Mountmellick. Depending on the sucess of the initiative, County Hall is also eyeing up similar measures in Durrow and other villages around the county.
Councillors have given the green light to Laois County Council’s Roads Section to push ahead with plans which could see the changes coming into force in Mountrath by June.
Under the changes, there will be a two-hour parking limit in the Market Square area. No charges will apply to park within the two hour window but fines can be issued if someone stays outside of the limit.
Parking will be limited during business hours 8.30 am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday inclusive. The council says signs will be erected to give effect these measures.
The Local Authority says the restrictions have been introduced to increase the turnover in spaces and encourage economic activity.
The decision to proceed was made at the Borris-in-Ossory Mountmellick Municipal District meeting by county councillors after a presentation by Georgina Ireland, Administrative Officer in Laois County Council's Roads & Transportation Section. MORE BELOW PICTURE.
She told councillors that Mountrath is the first town to be subject to the change as part of an ongoing of parking in Laois towns. The other towns for pilot parking projects are Abbeyleix and Mountmellick.
“We looked at Mountrath following representations arising from issues in the town centre and providing a proper turnover of parking to support economic activity in the town,” she said.
Ms Ireland said further consultation with the public in 2021 resulted in nine submissions all of which backed the proposal. No objections were received.
Issues were raised in the submissions particularly by people who work in the town who sought and alternative all-day parking location.
The public raised concerns about the main alternative - the car park at the Bank of Ireland. Nearly all submissions said that the condition and security of the car park need to be improved.
Ms Ireland said the council proposes to resurface and reline the car park to maximise spaces and upgrade the entrance. Public lighting will also be installed that will illuminate the entire area.
The consultation also resulted in calls for a loading bay and parking permits for residents and the availability of traffic wardens. Ms Ireland said a loading bay and an age-friendly parking place will be located in the town centre.
She told county councillors that residents permits will be reviewed on application with the normal rules applying but she added that it is not envisaged that permits will result in no spaces being available on the street.
She added that traffic warden hours would be apportioned appropriately within the existing complement of two traffic wardens. She said the resources do not exist in the medium term to recruit more wardens but added that the number of wardens could increase as restrictions are extended to other towns and villages in Laois.
She said traffic wardens will make ‘random lightning visits’ to Mountrath. The official added that the Gardaí can also enforce the restrictions and the council would work in conjunction with the gardaí on enforcement.
Ms Ireland said there was no proposal for parking charges in Mountrath in research carried out. She added the law does not require charges for signs.
In respect of the expansion of restrictions to other towns, Ms Ireland said Covid-19 lockdowns have delayed progress. However, she expects progress in Abbeyleix and Mountmellick in the coming months.
Ms Ireland said work to advance Abbeyleix should proceed quickly but a management team decision has to be made in relation to Mountmellick as there are issues that need to be resolved around resources.
She added that the restrictions would be rolled out to other towns such as Durrow once evaluation of the success of the measures in the pilot towns has been completed. MORE BELOW PICTURE.
Cllr James Kelly tabled a motion at the Municipal District meeting where he praised the council for the work done and plan produced. He said the work on the car park is essential.
“The car park is in a very bad state of repair which means it cannot be utilised to its full potential. We will get a lot more cars in,” he said.
Along with lighting, resurfacing he hoped that CCTV could be installed for security purposes.
He expected no more than 10 parking permits were needed.
He added that he would commit the vast majority of his discretionary funds to the resurfacing work to ensure it will be done this year.
Cllr John King also welcomed the move which he said would ease traffic congestion and improve safety. He wanted issues surrounding security at the bank car park to be clarified if a vehicle is damaged.
He suggested that an alternative to a council traffic warden policing parking in the town could be introduced given the small number of wardens employed at present in Laois.
Cllr Oliver Clooney welcomed the commitments for other towns but said Durrow must be looked at.
“We have no car park in Durrow. We have a huge amount of traffic going up the Kilkenny road and there is a lot of traffic of business being passed because there is nowhere to pull in. I welcome this for Mountrath and Abbeyleix but it has to come for Durrow,” he said.
Cllr Conor Bergin also welcomed the news. He suggested that more traffic wardens are needed give that there are just two wardens employed at present.
Cllr Paddy Bracken also praised that measure for Mountrath and hoped that the initiative could be rolled out to other towns such as Mountmellick.