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Slash parking rates or our town will die

Proposals to reduce controversial on-street car parking charges by 25pc in Dun Laoghaire will go before local councillors next month.

Under the plans, the council will reduce the charges that apply on eight roads in the town from €2 to €1.50pc.

It is hoped the move will entice more shoppers into the town centre, with the aim of propping up struggling businesses.

Expensive on-street parking has become a major issue for retailers competing with large shopping centres located outside towns and cities.

And it is hoped that the move by Dun Laoghaire might be followed by other local authorities.

A report drawn up by the transportation department said that: "Parking surveys have demonstrated that the reduction in charges is justified as these roads have an average occupancy of below 80pc during peak parking demand periods.

"The total number of on-street spaces where the cost of parking is to be reduced account for approximately 26pc of all on-street parking spaces in the town," it said.



leisure

It is hoped that the initiative will encourage more people to visit the town for business and leisure purposes, the report said.

Ann Joyce, the secretary of the Dun Laoghaire Community Association, told the Herald: "We would welcome this as a start, but parking is still too expensive."

The association has previously called for on-street parking charges to be reduced to €1 an hour, and for innovative approaches such as free parking periods to attract visitors to the town.

She said that the council needs to look more deeply at the whole situation. She pointed out that "empty shops don't pay rates".

Last month, the association released its own report which said that parking rates in Dun Laoghaire were set close to Dublin city rates, and much more expensive than suburban parking rates in other areas.

The policy is "strangling our town, contributing to a spiral of retail unit closures and the ongoing decline in the fortunes of a once vibrant and thriving town centre," it said.

fdillon@herald.ie