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Free parking suggestion quashed

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ENNIS Town Council has put the brakes on a call for free car parking to be provided in the town in the run up to Christmas.
The council has rejected a suggestion by Councillor Johnny Flynn, who urged that shoppers visiting Ennis should be able to avail of free car parking on streets and in council car parks on all Friday and Saturday afternoons between 2pm and 6pm until December 30.
At a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, Councillor Flynn stated, “Limerick city is offering free parking this month, Kilrush are doing the same thing and there are reduced parking rates in Galway. The last six weeks of trading have been very tough, we have had adverse weather and the budget.”
He argued that free parking would increase the number of people coming to Ennis to shop. “People will be spending local. We have to try and sustain jobs in the town. According to a study by the Economics Foundation in London, for every €10 spent in a town like Ennis, it multiplies to €25 as it circulates.” This proposal was seconded by Councillor Mary Howard. Councillor Michael Guilfoyle raised concerns about the amount of revenue that would be lost to the town if free parking was given the go-ahead, adding that there would be no control over the length of time people could park.
Councillor Peter Considine commented, “While on paper it’s a good idea, it could have a negative effect on shops”.
Town clerk Eddie Power told the meeting that the local authority always strive to encourage people to shop local and support local businesses, however it is not proposed to introduce free car parking.
“The council will be aware of the reduction in income from car parking charges as a consequence of the introduction of VAT on off-street car parking from July 2010. Having regard to the financial position of the council, it is not proposed to introduce free car parking in the pre-Christmas period 2010.”
He added that loss of revenue is not the only reason for not giving the proposal the go-ahead.
“The issue also needs to be considered from a parking management point of view. The levying of parking charges for on-street and off-street car parking is a mechanism to facilitate the turnover of car parking spaces. It is considered that free parking would not facilitate businesses or shoppers alike, as the turnover of car parking spaces would be reduced.
“The implementation of free parking on Fridays and Saturdays would only cause confusion among the general public. Furthermore, the proposal to allow free parking between the hours of two to six may lead to traffic congestion at this busy time, which would have a negative effect. It should also be noted that the scale of parking charges in Ennis compare favourably with car parking charges in other towns and cities. The imposition of a car parking charge is not a significant deterrent to shoppers,” he concluded.

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