Local business leaders have described a Longford Town Council offer to provide two of the county town’s car parks free of charge on Saturdays as “derisory”.
Longford Chamber of Commerce president Seamus Butler said measures to provide free parking at the rear of Longford County Council’s offices on Great Water Street and at its Camlin Court equivalent were insufficient in terms of appeasing local businesses.
And in a further outburst, the former county councillor hit out at the apparent lack of correspondence from local authority executives over the issue.
Referring to a written letter dispatched in June, seeking free-off street parking for shoppers over a three month period, Mr Butler said: “All we (chamber) have heard is hearsay and what has been reported (in the papers). We have had no reply at all; it’s just bad manners.”
In July, the Leader revealed how council finance chiefs risked losing up to €50,000 in lost revenue and possibly €100,000 if the idea was extended to the perennially busy Christmas shopping period.
More recently, and following their return from the summer recess, local representatives were told the Town Council was facing a €200,000 deficit, thereby throwing any plans to waive free parking into doubt.
On foot of a proposal put forward by Cllr Tony Flaherty however, councillors gave their support to the idea of opening up car park facilities behind Longford County Council’s headquarters along Great Water Street with a similar move also being undertaken at the Camlin Court Car Park.
That submission has since been brushed aside by an angry Mr Butler.
“It’s a paltry and derisory offer. These car parks (Great Water Street and Camlin Court) especially the one on Water Street, there are very shops located there. It’s just a very limited offer. If they can’t offer off-street parking like what we asked for then that’s just too bad,” he said.
Responding to Mr Butler’s criticism Cllr Flaherty hit back, saying it was time the chamber stopped blaming Longford’s retail woes on paid parking.
“I feel this (proposal) is a compromise. They (car parks) are in the centre of town, they are beside the shopping centre and a two minute walk from Main Street. What more can we do? No matter how much they (chamber) want, they always want more. If they stopped scaremongering all the time about paid parking then people might actually start coming into Longford,” he said.