THE chief executive of Cork City Council has warned that any decisions regarding the future of the Patrick Street traffic restrictions will have to be made by the elected members of the council.
She was speaking after 200 traders met at the Imperial Hotel last night and approved a motion to call on City Hall to reverse the controversial car ban.
Traders threatened strong action, including pickets, after concerns were raised about the impact it has had on business.
Ann Doherty, CEO at City Hall, said: “We, as officials, prepare information for the elected members who make the policy decisions. Once they decide, we implement and support these decisions as we have done to date in relation to the Cork City Centre Movement Strategy.
“It will be a matter for Council to consider all the information available to them on Monday and make their decision based on that having assessed all the implications. As officials, we will implement the decision of Council.”
More than two dozen speakers, mostly city centre business people, took the mic to express overwhelming concern for trading in Cork city as things stand.
Many expressed their unhappiness with the negative attention the ban has brought to the city and called for businesses to work together to send out a positive message.
John Boylan of the English Market said: “We need to start spinning positivity because negativity has dragged this situation further into a black hole. Let’s go from here and let everyone know the city is a great place. The City Council need to overturn this decision and then it is down to us to draw the people back in.
“The city is about people, not bus stops and parking fines.”
Others also said they were anxious to promote Cork but Soizic Kiely of Les Gourmandises summed it up when she said: “It is very hard to be positive when the money is not coming in. The negativity came from City Hall the day they put guards on the street and the day they said Patrick Street is closed,” Richard Jacob of Idaho Cafe said.
Pat O’Connell said the ban had given customers the idea that town was too much trouble, adding: “A city without people is a graveyard.”
The only dissenting voice from the consensus came from a representative of the Opera Lane businesses, who said it was too early to say what the impact of the ban is.
He said some businesses were up and others on a par and added that for some late-night shopping has improved. He said his group were willing to give it a chance. But most of the other attendees felt businesses would not survive the three month trial period mooted by City Hall last week and called for immediate reversal.
There were further calls for more direct action, including a picket to prevent Council staff availing of free parking and a march on City Hall by traders next week. A motion to threaten to withhold rates received the backing of almost 50 attendees although fears were raised about repercussions of such a move.
In the end, it was decided that traders would attend Monday’s Council meeting. The CBA encouraged them to contact council members before that to highlight their concerns. If the ban is not reversed a further meeting will be held to discuss possible action.