Get the change ready again!
After almost four months of free parking in Drogheda, payment is back in force from July 18
Come Wednesday July 18th, the great debate about parking in Drogheda - or lack of it - will again come to the fore as the meters are switched on again.
Since March, when it was discovered that the parking byelaws in Drogheda were not fit for purpose, motorists have been parking for free around town.
For many, it has been a blessing and a big saving.
For others, especially residents and shoppers, it's been tough to get a space.
The byelaws in the car parks and the street come back into force this week and the charge remains at €1.20, despite a bid to get it reduced to €1.00.
What the byelaws don't include are practical solutions to the many parking issues that people have highlighted.
In the four months, nothing has been done to replace the former Scarlet Street free car park - which saw 50 spaces go.
With the resumption, the likes of the free areas on the Donore Road and at Mell are likely to fill quickly.
One area that was under huge pressure prior to and during the 'free period' is Windmill Road and Anneville Crescent.
While it will see a return to pay parking, at least there are a lot more people who now realise that something has to be done with the parking crisis in that part of town.
Caroline Gormley is a local resident who has helped lead the fight.
'At the moment we are waiting for the engineer's report to see what the next steps are. We have opened up links with the hospital and had talks with them and there is a general feeling that people just didn't know the impact parking was having on residents,' she stated.
They expressed concerns that the bottleneck at the lower part of the street, close to Mother Hughes, could lead to an ambulance or other emergency vehicles being unable to get up the street.
With parking on double yellow lines after hours in Anneville Crescent, the same concerns exist.
'Everybody is aware of the problems here now, the council, councillors, who have been very good, and the hospital.
'It is not the visitors fault that they are parking here, but we just need to come up with a plan about what can be done.
'This impacts on families on the street, carers, tradespeople, services. The fact that pay parking is coming back won't solve this and I think everyone knows that,' she stated.
The senior operations management team of the Lourdes Hospital, members of Louth County Council and Council engineers, including Cllrs Kevin Callan, Oliver Tully, Joanna Byrne, Tommy Byrne, Pio Smith and Mayor Frank Godfrey, as well as engineers Mark Johnston and Willie Walsh, met recently.
Even with 826 car parking spaces in the Cross Lanes HSE car park and a further 132 in the hospital, parking at the Lourdes Hospital is at a premium.
The cost of using the HSE car parks was raised and hospital management undertook to contact all staff members to encourage them to park in designated car parks, rather than on the surrounding streets. The idea of a dedicated staff car park and shuttle bus was also discussed.
The Mayor suggested that there should be regular meetings between Gardaí, HSE and council engineers regarding parking and access.
'Together they should plan for the future and look at available land for further parking opportunities. There are no easy solutions.'
Other aspects of the parking system in Drogheda were highlighted during the free parking period, particularly around the North Quay.
The payment process differs between the Port Authority area and the council district and that led to a number of fines and confusion.
Indeed, there were calls that the two different areas should be colour coded, so helping people, especially visitors to the town.