There has been a significant drop in the amount of income generated from both paid parking and parking fines in Longford town in the past year.
In 2011, Longford Town Council generated €954,236 in revenues from on-street parking and car parks in the town, down considerably from €1,118,315 in 2010.
Fines collected were also down over €26,000 last year. In 2010, €173,440 was collected in comparison to just €147,380 last year.
Despite the drop, Cllr Paul Connell has blasted the amount of money collected from fines in the town. “€150,000 in fines collected from a population of eight or nine thousand is far too much; it’s an awful amount of money. That’s €150,000 that people could have to spend in shops in this town.
“From what I’m hearing, people who have got these fines are simply just not coming back into Longford anymore.”
“I agree with paid parking but I do not believe in hounding people for money. We need to look at the areas where people are picking up the most fines and look at different things we can do to provide parking and encourage people back to this town,” the independent councillor remarked.
At a recent Co Council meeting, Cllr Sean Farrell (FG) described the parking situation in Longford Town as a “mess” and said that shoppers from rural parts of the county were abandoning Longford in favour of Roscommon, Cavan and Mullingar.
There is currently a review of paid parking ongoing in the Midlands local authorities, but based on the information gathered so far, “parking charges are generally similar but all day parking is generally cheaper,” according to the Town Manager’s report on the 2012 Budget.
In this budget for the coming year, Longford Town Council estimates that it will generate €145,920 from parking fines, down slightly on 2011. In the document, the Town Manager blames this expected decrease on the “wider duties currently assigned to traffic wardens.” The estimated income from parking charges is also expected to decrease to €891,048. Just three years ago in 2009, Longford Town Council generated €1,632,198 from parking charges and fines, the highest figure since paid parking was introduced. Despite the downturn in income, the Town Council said in a statement, “the operation of paid parking in Longford is working very well at present and there are no operational issues to be resolved.”