Cllr Kenneth Flood – We couldn’t prolong the parking pain

At a special meeting on the parking bye-laws this evening in Drogheda, Sinn Féin Councillors voted to end the parking pain that has plagued Drogheda since March this year.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Kenneth Flood said “To be absolutely 100% Crystal Clear , the Sinn Féin group are in favour of €1 parking rates in parts of Drogheda. However, if we had proposed that tonight the parking bye-laws would have had to go back out to public consultation and the current no fee parking debacle would continue for several more months.”

“Businesses have told us they will not survive much longer as their trade has dropped 40% – 50% since the pay parking regime in Drogheda fell. Residents around Windmill Road , Cord Road and elsewhere cannot park anywhere near their houses. That would continue for several more months if we had not passed the parking bye-laws tonight.”

“It was a hard call but we had to make it to end the current parking nightmare for residents and businesses alike. We spoke in favour of the €1 fee this evening. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“We have now finished 1 of 3 parking specific special meetings with the Chief Executive to resolve all of the parking issues that face Drogheda. The parking fee is firmly on the agenda among other just as important issues.  We are not interested in a single issue to grab a headline, we are interested in a long-term solution to the parking fiasco. We want to and we’re going to sort out all of the parking issues that face Drogheda.”

“I must reiterate, we could not in good conscience prolong this disaster by months knowing that we had another option, through the special meetings, to address the parking fees.”

Cllr Byrne: Drogheda Parking Issue Dismissed with a Shoulder Shrug

The issue of parking remains to be a bone of contention in Drogheda especially around the Lourdes Hospital. At April’s Drogheda Municipal meeting the issue was raised and it was agreed that it should be ‘addressed urgently by the Council and the HSE’. The same issue subsequently dominated a special sitting of the parking committee made up of members and officials from Louth County Council some two weeks later.

As a result of the frustrations of the members over the heightened congestion in the area, and the concern’s raised by local residents in the vicinity the then Director of Service’s for Operations, Catherine Duff, under took to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to discuss options to maximise the use of their own HSE carpark on both the Crosslanes and indeed on the hospital grounds also, with a view to alleviating some of the congestion in the surrounding areas.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, at this month’s Municipal meeting sought an update on the issue.

An outraged Joanna Byrne said “I only discovered that no such meeting has taken place, but it hadn’t even been requested. In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over the actions of the HSE and he could not guarantee any co-operation from them.”

This was like a red rag to a bull to Cllr Byrne who replied to him, “With all due respect Mr. Walsh, we are sitting here six weeks later from when this was requested and agreed to by the members, you yourself sat at the subsequent parking meeting where we delved into this in some depth and now you are telling us that you do not deem it necessary? Whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members. I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report on the same circulated to the members. I do not wish to return again next month to the same laidback, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!”

Following the meeting, Cllr Byrne wrote to the Director of Services expressing her dissatisfaction that there was no follow through on this, especially considering the parking issues that is troubling all of the constituents of Drogheda at present, once again laying down her expectations that officials get on board with the members and endeavour to work with them in fixing this debacle.

Joanna Byrne – Drogheda Debacle Extended by Another Month

At last Wednesday’s special sitting of the Municipal District of Drogheda, the Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin met with the Drogheda Councillors to discuss the proposed new draft pay parking bye-laws.

On March 5th the Chief Executive immediately suspended pay-parking charges in Drogheda stating that the bye-laws were missing commencement dates and following legal advice that morning they were deemed unsatisfactory. This move plunged Drogheda into a parking nightmare.

At the time of doing this the Chief Executive indicated she expected to call a special meeting within a week with proposed new bye-laws to be agreed to go out onto public consultation, starting a three month statutory process. This meeting did not take place for a further four weeks.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne led the charge at this meeting. “I wanted to know the reason for the delay and queried that if it was only the commencement dates missing from the previous bye-laws, surely it would not take four weeks to draft a new set to include the commencement date. I let the Chief Executive know that the delay fell on her lap, and in delaying the way she did, she added an additional month of disarray onto the people of Drogheda to the initial three month timeframe given for a resolution.”

Speaking the following morning on local radio Cllr Byrne stated that “a month of this chaos could have been avoided, had there been some forward planning”. She deemed the initial suspension of charges a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ from the CEO and indicated that the suspension should have been held off until the new bye-laws were drafted and ready to be put out to consultation.

“Businesses, traders, workers, residents, hospital patients, the list is endless of the people massively impacted by the current chaos. If this could have been avoided for another four weeks, it should have been, there was no thought given to the people of this town and the impact it would have on them.”

The Drogheda Councillors, despite requests, have not been furnished with the legal advice that prompted this move in the first place. Cllr Byrne felt “maybe there was more than commencement dates omitted from the previous set of bye-laws, maybe this was the reason for the delay in drafting the new ones, but the only response given to me by Ms.Martin was that the reason for the delay was that she wanted to ensure that the new ones were indeed this time around satisfactory and they ‘would stand-up’, here’s hoping.”

At the same meeting Cllr Joanna Byrne and her Sinn Féin Colleague’s opposed a motion by Cllr Kevin Callan to reduce the parking rates from €1.20 p/h to €1 p/h.

Cllr Byrne stated “I did not necessarily disagree with Cllr Callan’s motion and we will be considering this proposal in the four week timeframe now given for submissions on these draft bye-laws, but prior to making a submission, I wanted to consider other options discussed including reductions in rates for areas suffering low footfall, or reductions in rates for off-peak days, options that would encourage trade and life to struggling areas of the town. The parking committee is to debate this over the coming week, following that we will be making a submission to reflect the outcome of that meeting.”

“I also want to delve further into the implications of the loss of revenue of such a reduction in parking rates. A loss of revenue in the region of €190k per annum from the proposed reduction is bound to result in cuts to some vital services to the people of this community. The Chief executive assured members that she could match this loss herself and it would not impact on this year’s budget, I wouldn’t be so confident about this, and there was certainly no assurance’s regarding the budget’s for next year and the years to follow. These are all issues that deserve our time and thought before any motions are passed or decisions made.”

Cllr Edel Corrigan: Unofficial Car Pool Parking Causing Issues with Residents

Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan has raised the issue of the unofficial parking taking place on the N53 Castleblayney Road in Dundalk.

Cllr Corrigan said “I have been contacted by a number of residents on this road directly off the M1 roundabout intersection. Some time ago yellow box and double yellow lines were installed to facilitate local residents having clear visibility on turning to their homes from the main road. However, there is now a significant increase in the volume of persons parking their cars on that road to car pool to Dublin and the no parking in the boxes and double yellow lines are no longer being adhered to.”

A second issue was also raised by Edel Corrigan.

“There is also a significant increase in the amount of waste being discarded in this area, from builder’s waste to food and general waste which residents believe to be coming from those parking in the area. I contacted the Council regarding this and welcome the fact that they have already completed a clean-up of the area.”

Cllr Corrigan is seeking longer term solutions to the unofficial parking but unfortunately because of the remoteness of the area from the town, the use of traffic wardens who are on foot, would be unsuitable.

Cllr Corrigan said “Infrastructure are investigating the establishing of proper park and ride facilities for the longer term so hopefully that will alleviate the issues around this particular area.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood: Is LCC Serious about Drogheda’s Parking Problems?

As the issue of Drogheda’s parking problems came to the fore this week, Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood asked if Louth County Council was serious about tackling the issue.

Wheelchair users took to social media with pictures of inconsiderate car drivers parking on footpaths in Drogheda forcing them to abandon their journeys and return to their homes.

Cllr. Flood said “In 2016, following my motion regarding car-parking, it was agreed during the ensuing discussion that Drogheda’s Councillors would meet with Louth County Council officials to discuss ways of tackling the parking problems facing the town.”

The meeting took place on 27th January 2017 in Fair Street Council Building.

“I and all the councillors present raised a number of issues and offered possible solutions to car parking in various parts of the town. Among the issues raised were the lack of park and ride facilities in the town and we also queried the millions of euro spent in the past for car parking facilities that have never materialised.”

Cllr Flood went on to say “Since then, despite repeated queries to the same Louth County Council Officials, not a single query has been answered and there has been no action taken on parking. I have asked for a further meeting to tackle the parking issue but again, no date has been forthcoming. The issue of parking in the estates surrounding Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was raised at that meeting and because of Louth County Councils inaction, this week we have seen Drogheda residents who use wheelchairs not being able to get to where they need to be in the town.”

“I am repeating my statement from the beginning of the year that there cannot be a piecemeal approach to Drogheda’s parking problems anymore. Drogheda’s residents and visitors need to know that our parking problems can and will be resolved, but to do that we need Louth County Council to start taking this issue seriously.”