Nenagh Town Council has agreed to extend its free car parking scheme in the run-up to Christmas to boost trade in the town. However, while parking will continue to be free in car parks on Saturdays, the council will only allow free four-hour parking on Monday, December 23, and Christmas Eve to combat people parking all day.
The decision was made by town manager Marcus O’Connor following appeals from councillors to have free parking for Christmas week.
“It is important the traders have a good year because they have had some lean ones,” he said, adding: “But we don’t have a bottomless pit.”
He said the council would take a “considerable hit” if it were to agree to free parking for Christmas week.
Mr O’Connor also hit out at people who park all day for free, saying they were “not doing anybody any good. While free Saturday parking had worked well, there could be up to 80 spaces taken in Kenyon Street on Saturday mornings, “and they are not shopping”.
The call for extended free parking in car parks was made by Cllr Tommy Moylan and backed by Cllr Hughie McGrath.
“We have seen the benefits of increased footfall because of our incentives. Free parking does work, but it needs to be expanded,” said Cllr Moylan.
And Cllr McGrath said while traders appreciated free Saturday parking, he wanted it free from December 16.
Cllr Tom Mulqueen said free parking would be a “great gesture” as traders were still finding it very hard.
“They are struggling down the street,” he said.
The move was also supported by Cllr Virginia O’Dowd, who urged the council to “go the extra mile” on free parking over Christmas.
“We want to flood our streets with shoppers,” she said.
However, she also encouraged traders to make an extra effort to promote their shops, and welcomed the news from Cllr Moylan that shops would remain open late and would be offering in-house attractions such as finger food and raffles. The traders are putting up E4,000 worth of vouchers to be won in the lead up to Christmas.
Cllr Conor Delaney pointed out that free parking was “not the be all and end all” of encouraging people to shop in Nenagh and urged that all the traders get involved in the Christmas promotions.
Mr O’Connor said the council executive had met Nenagh Chamber and drawn up a programme that was costing E5,000 to implement and would ivloved distributing 8,000 flyers. The town will also see a return of the road train that was in Nenagh for the 150th anniversary of Nenagh railway station, as well Christmas films and stalls.