As business owners continue to rail against new traffic restrictions on Patrick Street, a prominent trader has called on City Hall to lead by example. Traders are also angry at the potential loss of 115 parking spaces during the redevelopment of Morrison’s Island.
City Hall staff have access to 285 free parking spaces at five city centre car parks, including Union Quay and North Main Street, according to figures released to the Evening Echo. A further 30 spaces are available to council staff at Black Ash Park & Ride.
At the Q-Park facility at Eglantine Street, Cork City Council leases 40 spaces from the private operator, at €1,100 per space, a total spend of €44,000 per year excluding VAT.
Cork City Council owns the remainder of the 245 spaces in city parking facilities. The spaces are valued at between €1,100 and €1,500 when leased to the public, meaning they could generate over €269,500 per year, ex VAT, if leased.
Meanwhile, the 940-space Black Ash Park & Ride at the Kinsale Road, where Cork City Council staff currently use just 30 spaces, is losing approximately €250,000 per year, with just a third of spaces in use.
Letters exchanged between trade unions IMPACT and LAPO and Cork City Council’s Human Resources (HR) department, seen by this newspaper, reveal that free city centre parking spaces for staff was one of a number of demands made by unions last summer.
In June of 2017, head of HR Michael Burke told the unions their demands for 120 free parking spaces were “not viable,” for reasons of cost and because of the difficulty of finding the spaces. Under threat of strike action, by November HR had agreed to provide 93 spaces as well as a “continuation of arrangements” at North Main Street and Black Ash Park and Ride. Spaces are allocated to the council’s 1,200 staff on the basis of seniority.
Former councillor John Minihane, of Minihane’s pharmacy on Oliver Plunkett Street, an outspoken critic of the Patrick Street and Morrison's Island changes, said City Hall's approach to their own staff parking arrangements was contradictory and showed a lack of leadership.
“They’re imposing the rules and changing the rules, and if they’re imposing new rules, they need to lead from the front,” Mr Minihane said.
“It shows two sets of standards, and it doesn’t wash."
City Hall last week announced a package of mitigation measures, including half-price parking in two city centre car parks and free use of the Black Ash Park and Ride facility at certain hours, to ease the concerns of traders who feel they are losing business.
“Cork City Council’s partnership committee (in which management and unions engage) is working on the development of equitable and transparent medium and long-term policies to guide long-term parking and transport policy for Cork City Council staff,” a Cork City council spokesperson said in a statement on staff parking arrangements.