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.”

Munster Calls to publicise Reduce Parking Fee Arrangement at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital has confirmed, that following Parliamentary Questions submitted by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, that it offers reduced parking fee arrangements where parents, relatives or service users are attending the hospital on a frequent basis and where the burden of car parking charges may cause or increase hardship. The rate offered is a flat fee of€4 per day, regardless of length of stay or number of visits on a given day.

Hospital Management advise that in such cases the ward manager or social worker dealing with the patient or their family will make them aware of the provision of such arrangements and arrange for the appropriate process to be put in place.

However, Sinn Féin TD, Imelda Munster believes that it is not good enough to expect the already hard pushed hospital staff to be in a position to ensure that patients and their families are aware of this arrangement, nor does every patient have a social worker appointed to them.

‘If they genuinely want people to avail of this facility then they need to be up-front and pro-active about it,’ says Deputy Munster.

‘In the interests of transparency, I have contacted the hospital management requesting that they advertise the availability of the €4 flat fee strategically in Car Parks, at the Parking Pay Zones, at Reception as well as on lifts and notice boards throughout the hospital.’

‘The public are clearly not aware of this!’

Drogheda’s Parking Problems too big for piecemeal approach

kenneth-floodSinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has issued a statement reiterating his call for a joined-up approach to Drogheda’s parking issues. Cllr. Flood said “In November last year I put forward a motion calling for park and ride facility in Drogheda. As part of this motion I detailed the legacy issues that have rendered Drogheda a parking nightmare, such as the spend of €9.5 million in 2007 on the O’Reilly’s Shop site in Narrow West Street for development as a multi-story car park which never materialised, the loss of parking on the waterfront and the loss of the Scarlet Street carpark amongst others.

“The members present agreed with and passed my motion but we also agreed to meet as a sub-committee to take an all-encompassing look at Drogheda’s parking issues. However, in the two Municipal District meetings since then there have been motions on parking discussed. At Monday’s January meeting we were again discussing a parking motion calling for the removal of the €12.70 annual charge for residential parking permits. A charge agreed by the members of Drogheda Borough Council in 2002 that is not charged in Dundalk.

“While I agree in the interest of fairness that this charge should be removed, it was stated by Louth County Council officials that any vote or motion was non-binding and would not be considered until there was a review of the parking bye-laws county wide and this is not on their agenda.

“This piecemeal approach to tackling Drogheda’s parking problems, picking small points and arguing them out month in and month out will not resolve Drogheda’s parking problems. What is currently happening may generate headlines and some councillors may be more interested in that, but at the end of the day if this approach is continued, Drogheda’s parking problems will continue.
“Drogheda’s councillors must follow through on what we agreed during the discussion on my motion last November and meet as a committee to make a unified and all-encompassing submission to Louth County Council to change Louth’s parking bye laws and agree a plan to address the lack of parking in Drogheda.

“To see this happen, I will be writing to the other members of Drogheda Municipal District inviting them to meet and form the traffic sub-committee.

“Drogheda’s residents and visitors need to know that our parking problems can and will be resolved and monthly arguments to generate headlines will not deliver that for anyone”.