CITY councillors are calling for an urgent review of Cork's parking policies in the wake of the loss of hundreds of spaces throughout the city.
It comes as Cork City Council introduces major changes to the traffic flow in the city centre, restricting access to Patrick Street for private vehicles from 3pm today.
The changes will see the city's main street open only to buses, bicycles and emergency vehicles between 3pm and 6,30pm daily as part of the City Centre Movement Strategy.
However, the change has prompted members of Cork City Council to call for a radical rethink on the city's parking mechanisms amid fears that the current set-up is driving people out of the city centre to suburban shopping centres.
Independent councillor Mick Finn has called for a complete review and overhaul of parking policies, including on street parking and multi-storey facilities, as well as residential permits and the park and ride.
Mr Finn pointed to the 110 spaces due to be lost as part of the Morrison's Island redevelopment and the dozens set to be eliminated at White Street when the area is converted into housing in the coming months.
"It is a big issue and getting bigger," he said, "We are all getting emails from concerned parties about the loss of spaces and it is time to do something about it. Parking meters, as have been mentioned over the years, should be back on the agenda.
"As well as losing spaces, we are losing a stream of finance for the city which could have a knock-on effect in terms of how we do business."
Mr Finn was supported across the board.
Fellow independent Paudie Dineen said that major issues are emerging in the south parish.
"We are losing spaces and the issues are not being resolved," he said.
"Now might be the time to extend the park and ride route into the city centre, especially when the Patrick Street experiment starts."
Others suggested extending the opening hours of North Main Street car park or offering free parking in the mornings to counter the loss of access in the afternoons.
Fine Gael's John Buttimer said that paid parking is a must in the city but said that the system needs to be overhauled.
"We need to embrace technology; the percentage uptake of the park-by-phone is poor," he said.
"There is a lack of multi-storeys outside the city centre, including the Bishopstown and CUH area, which needs one.
"Ultimately, we need to be proactive and we need to think outside the box. What will commercial activity look like in 10 or 15 years time?"
A report issued by Cork City Council's roads directorate said that policies are constantly in review.
"Parking space is a limited and valuable resource which must be priced appropriately to encourage desired levels of use, balanced between the competing needs of residents, businesses, visitors and the disabled"
the report stated.
"Demand management must also support Cork City Council's commitment to promoting sustainable modes of transport including public transport, walking, cycling and car pooling."