herald

Friday 6 December 2019

'Not an ATM' - DCC slammed for 10pc hike in parking rates

Motorists and businesses learned this week that they will have to pay higher charges
Motorists and businesses learned this week that they will have to pay higher charges

The decision to increase parking charges again is driving business out of the city centre, consumer experts have warned.

Motorists in Dublin learned this week that they will have to pay higher parking charges from July after councillors voted to increase on-street parking fees by 10pc.

When the measures are introduced, parking in the capital will have risen by 80pc in some places over the space of 12 months.

There is also more bad news for car owners as the cost of using the Tom Clarke Bridge (formerly the East-Link Toll Bridge) will rise by 50c from next April.

AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan told the Herald that Dublin City Council (DCC) should not perceive city parking as an "ATM machine".

"The reason for street parking is to facilitate business in Dublin city," he said. "Pricing decisions should be based on what is best for business in the city and not as a way for the council to generate revenue.

"The council are citing half a dozen financial woes, but none add up to a reason why the motorist has to bail them out," he said.

In July of this year, on-street charges had increased by more than 10pc, from €2.90 to €3.20, in an expanded yellow "very high demand" parking zone.

Those parking in an expanded red "high demand" zone were forced to pay even more as the hourly rate increased from €2.40 to €2.70.

Charges

And due to the expansion of the red zone into the "medium demand" green zone, motorists who were paying €1.60 an hour to park on some suburban streets are now paying €2.70 for the same time.

Graeme McQueen, of Dublin Chamber, told the Herald that the latest parking charge hike will have an impact on both the competitiveness of the city centre and its attractiveness as a place to visit.

"For anyone who has to bring their car into the city on a regular basis, that's a significant increase to soak up," he said.

"We absolutely welcome the goal of reducing the number of car trips in Dublin. The question is why so many people are still having to drive and park in the city in the first place? The answer for many is that they have no other option.

"It would be easier to stomach these price hikes if we were seeing a marked improvement in the city's public transport network and cycle lanes at the same time. Sadly, that's not the case," he said.

The increases were included in the 2020 budget, which was agreed by a majority of Dublin City councillors at a meeting on Monday night.

Business owners will also be hit with a hike of almost 3pc more in commercial rates next year. The increase will come into effect on January 1

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, believes that a full "root and branch" review of council spending is needed.

"The business community seem to be always hit with these increases," he said.

"If DCC was in the private sector, they'd be looking at shedding the fat off the organisation instead of having to charge consumers and businesses even more. These charges don't help anyone," he said.

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