Town centre parking fees 'could close down shops'
on 30/01/2013 00:00:00
It is calling on the Government to save town centres from desertion by providing guidelines on car parking and smart travel.
"Cash-strapped local authorities are destroying the vitality of town centres in Ireland with extreme parking policies. High rates, fines, and the threat of clamping are driving people out of town centres. This has created a nightmare on every street that requires urgent action," said director general Tara Buckley.
"The retail core of a town acts as a significant economic hub, and traditionally has led to significant investment in commercial properties and civic facilities to greatly enhance the quality of life of an area. This trend is now in danger of being reversed due to the significant fall in consumer demand, coupled with higher vacancy rates and the current parking regime in place within town centres."
Research carried out among RGData members and a selection of local authorities shows many retailers feel car parking charges are prohibitive and act as a disincentive for consumers to shop in town or city centres.
In the report, entitled Nightmare On Every Street - Town Centres, Car Parking, and Smart Travel, RGData calls for new guidelines to end parking policy inconsistencies of local authorities and help combat the pull of shoppers to out-of-town retail centres with free parking.
The report recommends including more graded parking fees and fines, more flexible payment mechanisms and innovative pricing structures, free-parking days, and set grace periods.
It proposes a levy on out-of-town free parking, to be imposed on the operator of the shopping centres and paid to the local authority. The introduction of standardised parking rights is also called for.
"This report proves that this issue is directly causing business closures, job losses and the death of vibrant town centres in Ireland. If the Government doesn't take this report into account and take specific action, this scourge will continue to drain the lifeblood from towns and villages. It's time to take action and end the nightmare," Ms Buckley said.