Fury at loss of parking for Morrison's Island improvement works

Fury at loss of parking for Morrison's Island improvement works
Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island

FURIOUS traders have said the city centre will be decimated by the biggest loss of parking ever seen in Cork.

Traders are warning that the city centre will become a “graveyard” if customers are driven away by the lack of available parking.

They unleashed their frustrations at a lengthy meeting with City Hall representatives last night about the proposed introduction of flood defences at Morrison’s Island.

City Hall is proposing the removal of 115 spaces as part of the Morrison’s Island flood works. A further 60 spaces will be lost with the development of social housing on the White Street car park.

Cork Business Association (CBA) chief executive Lawrence Owens said: “Parking has never been lost at this scale before.”

Cars parked on Morrison's Island.
Cars parked on Morrison's Island.
A view of Morrison's Island after the street upgrade.
A view of Morrison's Island after the street upgrade.

Mr Owens said the loss of parking from the Morrison’s Island scheme equated to 2,500 to 3,000 customers a week and 150,000 a year.

Former CBA President and English Market trader Pat O’Connell said a city without customers, isn’t a city — it’s a graveyard.

Mr O’Connell said: “We are losing parking by stealth. We are your customers and we need solutions. It is not good enough to ask for submissions.”

Cork City Council’s Director of Services for Environment and Recreation Directorate David Joyce emphasised the need for the works in the city.

Mr Joyce said the development would solve a significant part of the city’s flooding.

Mr Joyce also detailed the design features of the project which incorporates funding sourced to create a public realm in what Mr Joyce described as a “sun trap”.

The City Council representative said they decided to start works at Morrison’s Island due to the urgent need for the flood defences in the area and outlined how 70% to 80% of the city’s flooding starts at Morrison’s Island and moves onto the South Mall, Oliver Plunkett Street and Patrick Street from there.

He said: “Morrison’s Island is an area with massive potential but it is also derelict and does not have a lot of development.”

The project hopes to change all that with two new plazas, a promenade and a cycle path and walkway along Fr Matthew’s Quay and Morrison’s Quay.

Mr Joyce encouraged the traders to get involved in the process by making submissions to Cork City Council with any ideas they might have to improve the project.

Ronan Kennedy, who owns a business on Winthrop Street, said the plans for Morrison’s Island looked fantastic, but parking was a problem.

“I’m delighted to get flood defences, but where will the customers come from? If parking goes, how will people get into the city? I fear there will be no cars and no people. We need a plan where people can park easily.”

Mr Kennedy said customers are constantly complaining about the lack of and cost of parking.

“The cost of carparks is driving people out to Mahon Point, Douglas and Wilton. I fear customers will disappear. We need to safeguard what we have.

“If you are taking the parking, what is it being replaced with?”

City businessman Billy McGill said more needs to be done to look after the small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

“SMEs give variety to the city. If we lose them we lose the heart of the city. We need the quaintness of little shops and small traders,” he said.

Mr McGill said City Hall has not done a thing about the issue of parking in the city.

Another trader, who said he had been trading in Cork since 1969 said the city will be in big big trouble if we don’t get our act together.

“We will end up with a beautiful city, full of drunks.”

Joan Lucy from Vibes and Scribes suggested the CBA should meet with City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty and Director of Service for Roads and Transportation Gerard O’Beirne in order to deal with the issue of parking in the city.

This idea was taken on board with another meeting scheduled to be set up before the submission deadline for Morrison’s Island project on April 12.

Three councillors also attended the meeting, Independent Councillor Kieran McCarthy, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tim Brosnan and Independent Councillor Paudie Dineen on the invitation of the CBA, and monthly meetings between traders and councillors were also suggested to ensure local political representation were up to date with the issues being faced in the city centre.

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