Business owners in Buncrana have criticised a proposal by Donegal County Council to abolish the half-hour free parking offered in the town.
Visitors can park their vehicle for free for up to 30 minutes before having to purchase a parking ticket, but Donegal County Council is looking to abolish this grace period which businesspeople say will be detrimental to trade in the town.
More than 100 businesses canvassed by Paul Brogan have signed a petition opposing the plan.
“Any change for the parking is going to be a disaster for businesses, particularly on the Main Street,” Eunan McLaughlin from Mac’s Bookshop said, adding that many businesses in the town are “just hanging on” amidst the cost of living crisis.
“It’s very short sighted and will lead to closure of business,” Liam Grimley from Healthwise Pharmacy warned.
“It will lead to less people in shops and less people spending money.”
“The last thing we need is an anti-business thing coming from the council.”
Donegal County Council did not respond to questions about the parking review, but the Inishowen Independent understands the matter has been discussed by council officials with Inishowen councillors in private ‘workshop’ meetings.
Councillors are split on the proposal. Independent councillor Nicholas Crossan says the additional revenue gained will go back into the community, while Sinn Féin councillor Jack Murray believes it could be disastrous for businesses.
“The half hour is costing the council money, about €13,000 last year, there are lots of things that have to be done and they have to be paid for,” Cllr Crossan said.
Cllr Murray said abolishing free parking would inconvenience visitors who want to pop into a local business to carry out a short transaction.
“I think we need to be more creative to raise revenue because there are other avenues we can use,” Cllr Murray said.
“It’s possible the fee could be increased for those staying longer, but there is already a substantial budget in the council.”
Read more about this issue in this week’s Inishowen Independent.