Following the resignation of the Douglas Business Association's vice-chairman due to a perceived over-focus on the issue of parking, Peter Horgan looks at parking issues in the city
Parking income for Cork City Council in 2011 was, according to officials within the council, approximately €7.8 million, of which €4.3 million was from off-street parking in car parks and the Black Ash Park and Ride.
2011 also saw an intake from on-street parking of €3.5 million for the city council while figures for quarter one of 2012, had a total intake of €850,340 – a significant amount no matter what sort of economic situation the local authority finds itself in.
“Parking is a very important aspect to the city, which is recognised as the second largest retail centre in the country," says Cork Business Association Chief Executive, Donal Healy.
“We have 8,500 both on and off street spaces in the city, along with the Black Ash Park and ride at the Kinsale Road Roundabout which only costs €5 to park for the day.The growth in car ownerships has meant an increased in consumer mobility for suburban business parks that can offer free parking.”
“What we are trying to do is increase the attractiveness of the city against these business parks, and parking shouldn’t be an issue. We hold 25 festivals in the city each year and the city has never been more accessible.”
Mr Healy also stresses that the CBA works regularly with both public and private partners – such as Bus Éireann and the car parks, to deliver the best prices and deals possible for consumers to support city retailers.
“Merchant’s Quay offers free parking on Thursdays from 6 to 8pm and also in the mornings until midday if you spend €30 or more in one of the shops associated with their deals. Parking deals are also on offer in Q-Park sites where overnight parking costs as little as €3.50”
Mr Healy insists that parking should not be a serious issue for anyone intending to visit the city, describing the price of parking as the same as a cup of coffee.
“We have a great product here in Cork to sell and I would encourage people to either make use of the public transport options or use the many deals available with your own private car. Parking shouldn’t be a deterrent.”
However, one group with concerns over the implementation of free parking in the city is the Cork Cycling Campaign.
“An easy to navigate city centre is essential to ensure vibrancy,” says Dr Darren McAdam O’Connell, a member of the campaign and Vice-Chairman of Cyclist.ie, the national lobby group.
“Out of town shopping is not attractive to cyclists, only to car users so city centres are under attack from both of those factors. Cyclists spend more than car users as we have more disposable income than car users, who have to buy petrol.”
While Dr McAdam O’Connell was welcoming of the City Council’s initial efforts at bicycle parking in the city, he admits that regularly that bike spaces are now full – even at off peak times such as Tuesday afternoons.
“It makes sense if you are concentrating on the city centre, to have a friendly city – something you cannot do if it is full of traffic. Nobody should get free parking as someone always has to pay for it, whether that is retailers or non-car users. Why should we be subsidising those who don’t contribute to the vibrancy of the city, it’s crazy.”