The €1.4m South Dublin County Council has netted in three years from parking meters and fines demonstrates a clear case for easing the burden on motorists, according to Clondalkin Councillor Trevor Gilligan. The Fianna Fáil representative said there should be a ‘free’ allocation before parking charges kick in.
Councillor Gilligan said: “I think we need to move away from seeing parking charges as a revenue raiser for local authorities and ease the burden on drivers as a way of helping businesses in Clondalkin and around the county. The current system of the standard rate per hour and need for coins is an on-going inconvenience for customers that discourages more short term parking which can be of benefit to local businesses in our villages.
“Fianna Fáil has published a policy document, Streets Ahead, which proposes changing the parking charges structure and creating a more flexible system that encourages short term stays, rewards return shoppers and removes disproportionate fines. We want to see a graded parking fee structure which would involve lower costs for shorter stays and I believe drivers should have a free allocation during the first hour of parking. For instance if a driver knew they were parking for 30mins there could be a free allocation of 15mins and a charge for the following 15mins paid at the time of parking.
“The penalty system imposed for over staying should also be implemented on a grading system basis. South Dublin County Council made almost €270,000 in fines during 2011. More than 10,000 fines are issued for parking related offences in South Dublin County Council each year, at €40 increasing to €60 after 28 days. There have been many incidents of motorists parking and being fined within the grace giving period. We believe minimum fees should be imposed in the case of brief overstays with costs rising as the length of time involved extends.”
Councillor Gilligan added: “Essentially, the focus should be on taking the hassle out of parking in villages for people, supporting local business and encouraging more people to shop in villages. It is clear that the growth of large shopping complexes and the hassle of parking charges on our main streets have discouraged shopping in our villages.”