Plan to add 100 parking spaces around Social Welfare building

Longford County Council head offices. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
The Department of Social Protection is planning to increase parking capacity at its Longford town headquarters by up to 100 spaces in a bid to ease congestion problems.

The Department of Social Protection is planning to increase parking capacity at its Longford town headquarters by up to 100 spaces in a bid to ease congestion problems.

The announcement comes following ongoing criticism at the Department and Office of Public Works’ (OPW) response to parking concerns at the Ballinalee Road facility.

Director of Services Barbara Heslin revealed the move after she and administrative officer Mark McNerney held talks with Department and OPW officials.

“They themselves are very concerned over the parking situation,” she told last week’s monthly Municipal District meeting.

“It’s causing issues for their staff, local residents and clients and customers.

“They have developed plans for extending the car park there to increase it by 90-99 spaces.

“The number of spaces will depend on any landscaping that they might incorporate in the new plans.”

Ms Heslin said one of the chief obstacles potentially scuppering the extension surrounded funding concerns.

Should that particular avenue be closed off, Ms Heslin said other options were being actively considered by the Department.

“They are going to look at other initiatives under workplace-travel plans which a lot of government departments in Dublin are looking at,” she said.

Some of those, she added, include possible car pooling, park and walk as well as cycle to work schemes.

In an attempt to speed up that process, Ms Heslin said the Council had agreed to hand over a map, showing Longford town’s current car parking capabilities.

She also revealed the Council were willing to undertake a search of possible locations if the Department expressed a desire to relocate certain staffing structures to other locations.

It was an admission which Cllr Peggy Nolan was quick to applaud.

She said one possible venue that could immediately house a government-led department was the former Town Council offices on Longford’s Market Square.

“When you said you would help with a property search, I immediately thought could they (Department) come here,” she told Ms Heslin.

“You can see there is nothing happening with these offices.

“If that could be agreed it would bring this part of town back to life.”

Ms Heslin said she would take on board those comments, but said any relocation decisions were not concerns for the Council, but rather the Department and its own organisational affairs.