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.”
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.”
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!’
Sinn 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”.
County Louth and the East of Ireland is consistently being touted as the place to go for those visiting or touring Ireland with its rich heritage and the launch of Ireland’s Ancient East programme aimed to attract tourists to the area. Fáilte Ireland believe this initiative will increase the visitors to the area by 25% and has described the area as a ‘touring region’. Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham wants tourists to not only visit County Louth but to stay and spend their Euros and boost the local economy.
At November’s County Council meeting, the Clogherhead councillor asked for ‘serviced parking ’ for touring camper vans. Cllr Cunningham said “what this means is, if a camper van is touring the area they can go to one of these ‘serviced parking bays’ and hook up their van overnight. They would ‘pay as they go’ and it would be similar to the power point for electric cars in Ardee. It gives the tourist freedom to just plug in and charge up without having to return to a camp site. If we could provide these bays throughout the county along with fresh water facilities for camper vans it would boost our local economy and encourage others to visit the area. The bays would pay for themselves.”
Tom Cunningham explained how he has noticed “an increasing number of non-Irish registered Camper vans especially around Annagassan Harbour and Port Oriel in Clogherhead since before the summer months. These people should be encouraged to remain in the area and so need to be catered for and where better than our wee county for breath taking scenery and amazing hospitality.”
The County Louth Tourism and Heritage Action Plan states ‘we aim to encourage more visitors to the county by exploiting the benefits of Ireland’s Ancient east’ and Tom Cunningham believes these ‘safer parking bays’ is a means of doing just that.
Cllr Cunningham said “it also says in the Tourism and Heritage Action Plan that it is a priority to deliver a ‘better visitor experience’ and create a demand for tourists to return and why wouldn’t they want to return to County Louth? But we need to be prepared to cater for them and these bays are a very simple way to do this.”
The response from the Council was that there were already three static caravan parks and one touring caravan park in County Louth.
Cllr Cunningham said “there is no point in publishing Action Plans if we are not going to see them through. I am determined to encourage more tourists to the county and am determined to pursue this.”