By Finian Coghlan
MOVES by three councillors to make town centre parking in Naas a bit easier hit a brick wall last week when it was revealed that their plans could cost the Council in excess of €250,000 – at a minimum.
Cllrs Evie Sammon and Carmel Kelly both brought motions to the July meeting of the Naas Municipal District to either increase the leniency period for parking in Council spaces from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, or to inform motorists by way of stickers on the machines that this period had already been increased at the June meeting from 15 to 30 minutes.
Cllr Seamie Moore suggested amending bye-laws to allow a two-hour limit on the Main Street for just €1 per hour.
“This is something we’re going to have to thrash out, because the report here isn’t great. There’s no signage around about the extra minutes,” said Cllr Sammon.
“Businesses are in crisis,” said Cllr Kelly, however the Roads Department “strongly recommend that the observation period should not be extended further”.
“It should be noted that an observation period is only for the purpose of giving time to the motorist to get change of cash for the parking machine if required,” said Gerry Halton from Roads.
“The current 30-minute observation period is more than adequate. There is also a two-hour maximum stay car park and four long term car parks within three minutes’ walk of Naas town centre,” he added.
“We have increased a number of online services to facilitate motorists, including pay by phone where non cash payments are available, and extending the observation period would have a significant negative impact on business and motorists,” he said.
He listed these to include a significant reduction in the turnover of parking spaces, a reduction of footfall, increased congestion, and confusion for the public with constant changes to parking regulation and a reduction in revenue to pay for these services.
However, the main spoilers came from projections based on his department’s internal estimations that on 2019 revenue, increasing the time limit from one to two hours in Naas would cost a minimum of €134,000 per year, whilst the most recent review of parking bye-laws in the town – also from last year – cost €150,000, including all civil works, revised signs, lines, administration and staff time as well as advertising.
Councillors were also reminded that if they got into the bye-law amendment process, there is a statutory requirement to open a consultation process, followed by recommendations and debate.
“It should be noted that a review of a parking bye-law may take a minimum of 12 months from the date of commencement with no maximum time frame to complete,” said Mr Halton.
“Members should also note that Naas town parking bye-laws are the most recently revised Kildare, and that at present there is a schedule of five to six parking bye-laws for other towns to be reviewed before Naas,” he said.
By way of compromise, it was pointed out that the Executive is currently in consultation with the businesses of Main Street to explore the possibility of expanding onto public paths – where room is available – with additional street furniture and signage.
“This could see the potential removal of on-street car parking spaces,” the engineer warned.