Despite cuts across the board in the Galway City Council’s budget for 2012, councillors have decided to give local businesses and shoppers a lift in the New Year.
A 20 per cent cut will see long stay parking in the city reduced from €5 to €4, affecting the Dyke Road, Cathedral, and College Road car parks.
Short term on-street and off-street parking will be reduced from €2.60 per hour to €2 per hour across the city. The changes will come in to play from January 1 2012.
In an effort to promote local business councillors felt that enticing shoppers to the city centre would be far more rewarding than a reduction in commercial rates.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael J Crowe highlighted that a one per cent cut in rates would mean a €50 saving to most businesses but a loss of €300,000 to the council.
The short-term section of the Dyke Road carpark will be extended by 230 spaces. Councillors predict that if a capacity rate of 45 per cent is achieved it will result in a revenue neutral adjustment for parking to the council.
Director of services Ciarán Hayes questioned councillors’ predictions. “I understand the motivation, but it is my view that it is not neutral,” he said. “I don’t think the proposed occupancy rate at the Dyke Road would be possible. It is not possible to say it is neutral yet.”
City manager Joe O’Neill said: “The usage of the Dyke Road is hugely ambitious. There is never a free space in the city so reducing the cost of on-street parking will make no difference”.
Despite warnings from council officials the reduction was adopted to the budget, and will be reviewed in the quarterly report.
Speaking after the meeting, Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Ollie Crowe welcomed the initiative, which he had been calling for since earlier in the year.
“I have been calling on the price of parking to be reduced for the past year. I am delighted that some of my recommendations have been taken on board,” he said. “In the current economic climate, Galway City Council has seized the opportunity to increase the numbers coming into the city, while boosting revenue for the council coffers. City traders, workers, and shoppers require affordable parking, and Galway City Council could deliver. I believe if this initiative is managed in a professional manner, Galway City Council will benefit.”
The Galway Chamber of Commerce has also welcomed the council’s decision on the limited free parking for the city.
In a statement the Chamber said: “This would be a two hour free parking window in the mornings to encourage shoppers into the city. This is a positive move and is welcomed and we hope it will be implemented when the Council meet for the first time in 2012.”
The Chamber also welcomed the lowering of general parking charges by 20 per cent and the setting aside of €60,000 for ‘marketing the city’.
Also concerned about assisting city businesses was Labour’s Cllr Niall McNelis who proposed free parking until 12 noon for the month of January. The proposal will be addressed at the council’s first motions meeting in January.