HIGH car parking charges and clamping are killing town centres and pushing shoppers to out of town retail parks, a group representing small shopkeepers has warned.
RGDATA said that high charges, fines and the threat of clamping are pushing consumers away from town centres. "There are also wildly inconsistent policies and costs in towns around the country and the government should come up with a national policy to create a more level playing field," the group representing 4,000 retailers said.
It wants charges for out of town parking spaces to make "free parking" a thing of the past.
RGDATA's report "Nightmare on Every Street - Town Centres, Car Parking and Smart Travel" also calls for incentives to encourage more shoppers into towns.
This would include standard grace periods of 60 minutes free parking.
It also wants town centre businesses to pay lower rates because of the negative impact of parking charges on business.
Out of town centres would have to pay a charge on parking spaces to the local authority to level.
It would then be up to the centre to decide whether to pass it on to customers but there was a case for doing this to influence driver behaviour, RGDATA said.
All new developments for out of town parking meanwhile would have to introduce a paid parking scheme.
"Cash strapped local authorities are destroying the vitality of town centres in Ireland with extreme parking policies," said RGDATA director general Tara Buckley.