Greens want to bring towing back to Cork; 'If you walk 500 metres of City Hall you'd find 100 parking offences'

Greens want to bring towing back to Cork; 'If you walk 500 metres of City Hall you'd find 100 parking offences'

Towing of illegally parked vehicles in the city stopped more than 2 years ago

CITY councillors are divided on proposals to reintroduce towing of illegally parked vehicles in the city.

City Hall abandoned the practices of towing and clamping over seven years ago due to public concern about costs and contracts to private companies to carry out the service.

However, Green Party councillor Dan Boyle brought forward a motion for towing to be reintroduced in order to stop people parking in bus lanes, cycle paths, in disability spaces and on footpaths.

It emerged this week that over half of all parking fines issued by the city council this year were for failure to display a parking disc. 

Just 1,175 of 35,056 fines were for parking on a footpath. 

Just 241 were for parking in cycle lanes.

Mr Boyle said: “There are so many traffic derelictions by motorists that we are choosing not to enforce. 

"If you walk within 500 metres of City Hall you would find 100 parking offences, whether it’s a dozen cars that are parked on the footpath on South Terrace or full cars parked on the footpath itself. 

"Something that amazes me is the amount of money that we spend repairing footpaths. Footpaths are not damaged by pedestrians, footpaths are damaged by cars driving on them and parking on them.

“The damage that is done proportionately in terms of movement in this city is not being matched by enforcement. Bus lanes and disabled parking spaces are being marked in by people that are not disabled. We have to have a strong proactive policy,” Mr Boyle added.

Picture: Richard Mills.
Picture: Richard Mills.

Henry Cremin (SF) responded that he agreed with Mr Boyle “to an extent” but warned that tourists could be penalised for lack of local area knowledge.

“Tourists are visiting our city and it’s hard for them to locate shops where they can purchase parking discs. I would feel sorry for tourists who have their cars towed.” 

Paudie Dineen (IND) claimed that the issue is far more complex than simply reintroducing towing.

“I would be totally against any reintroduction of towing in the city. 

"The last time we had a policy of towing it turned into a cash cow, not just for the council but for private operators. Nobody was safe, even if you parked legally you could still be towed.

“I accept that there probably is a lot of illegal parking in cycle lanes and footpaths but we have the Gardaí and traffic wardens that police that and I’m sure they are dealing with that accordingly.” 

He added it could create fear for people not to go into the city centre and affect small traders.

“You could also see cyclists on footpaths and breaking red lights aswell. We can’t have it one way or the other, we have to have it both ways.

“I’ve seen people with disabled parking badges parking in disabled bays and walking away, they are not disabled at all but have a badge from a member of their family and they are abusing it. So, there is a lot of work to be done. The most important thing is the traders and we need to protect them,” Mr Dineen added.

Derry Canty (FG) cautioned that in some estates, parking on footpaths is a necessity because roads are too narrow.

Mr Boyle’s party colleague Oliver Moran said most councillors agreed something needs to be done about illegal parking but added they “seem to oppose every option” to tackle it.

City Hall has said that towing created a negative image of the city and its reintroduction would affect traders. The council’s parking enforcement regime is expected to expand next year.

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