Parking mayhem is choking our small towns
Do you live near a town or village in a rural area and within the commuter belt of any of our large towns or cities? If so then you will no doubt share my outrage at the way that town centres are being allowed to wither and die.
We have all read about the problems caused by the closure of post offices and Garda barracks in rural Ireland but little has been written about the difficulty of finding parking in order to buy a newspaper, use the ATM, purchase groceries or maybe have a coffee and a sandwich.
Part of the problem is caused by people who drive in from the countryside to get the bus or train to work and many park their cars for the entire day, thereby taking up valuable space that would allow others to stop and do business in the local shops. On my travels throughout Ireland I always try to avoid motorways if possible.
While this undoubtedly takes longer, it adds interest to the journey and allows me to see all the smaller villages and towns that have been bypassed by new roads and enjoy the features that one misses when driving on the major highways.
An all too frequent sight is that of a busy foreign owned supermarket on the outskirts of a small town with its huge car park facilitating shoppers coming and going throughout the day. One cannot help but ponder on the consequent loss of trade to the town centre.
In contrast, the smaller locally owned shops in the heart of the town are often almost empty. I used to think this was maybe because of the price of goods but on closer inspection, it is clear that that is not the case.
Small local shops in general offer great value and even better, shopping in them is a pleasant, sociable and relaxing experience.
But there is nothing relaxing about driving around narrow streets searching for a non-existent gap among lines of parked cars so you can pop on to a newsagents or restaurant. Failing to find a space, you then take the easiest option available and drive on to the next town in the hope that you will be able to find somewhere to park in safety and comfort.