Last minute plan for free parking in Portlaoise this Christmas

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Free parking wanted in Portlaoise this Christmas

Free parking wanted in Portlaoise this Christmas

A last minute request has been made for free parking for Christmas shoppers in Portlaoise, but Laois County Council say it was not in their budget to lose another €35,000.

Cllr Mary Sweeney tabled a motion to the November meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, asking for free parking in December up to Christmas. 

She said that having spoken to business owners in the Downtown Portlaoise traders group, that a two hour maximum stay was the best solution, to stop all-day parkers taking up spaces for shoppers. After that two hours, parking fines can be levied.

“My intention is to increase footfall and encourage people to shop locally,” she said.

However Town Manager Simon Walton replied that the council had not been planning free parking. He noted the “significant shortfall” of income already in 2020 from parking charges that were suspended for three months during Covid-19 restrictions. The income will drop from €549,000 down to a likely €300,000.

“I understand the merits but there is no budgetary recommendation made with it,” he said, estimating the loss at €30,000 to €35,000 this December. 

Cllr Willie Aird backed the motion, and said he lived near a parcel company and it was very busy.

“It’s bursting at the seams, the whole country is getting parcels, lorries are going the whole night long. We have to do everything physically possible to keep Main Street going,” he said.

He got clarity from Mr Walton that shoppers returning to park on the same day can do so free of charge. Mr Walton also said that parking wardens will show some flexibility. 

The councillors then proposed for the council to give free parking for the first three Saturdays in December up to Christmas week, December 5, 12 and 19.