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Plans to cut parking fees gain support

A PROPOSAL allowing for reduced on-street parking fees in Dublin city to encourage shopping is to be put before the council.

The plan is believed to have the backing of most members of the local authority.

If voted through on Monday, the council will be permitted introduce a "temporary reduced parking fee" in order to promote "retail activity in the city".

The current bye-laws contain no such provision and a lengthy process must be gone through to alter the rates.

While councillors are understood to support the initiative, local authority officials were initially sceptical. They argued the plan should be ditched as it would cost the local authority €1m a year in revenue.

The officials said the measure would not achieve its aim as occupancy rates in the parking zones are already running at nearly 90pc.

In a report, council executive manager Tim O'Sullivan stated "businesses in the city centre are experiencing a fall-off in trade due to the current economic climate".

"In order to encourage shoppers into the central area, it is proposed that a new Thursday evening and Saturday tariff be applied in the very heavy and heavy demand zones."

However, a survey carried out "shows occupancy rates of 87pc on Thursday evening between 6pm and 9pm and 83pc on Saturday between 10am and 4pm," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"These rates are very high and effectively represent maximum occupancy," he added.

This means reducing the fees temporarily at certain times would not achieve the objective of attracting more shoppers, Mr O'Sullivan insisted.

He also cited the €1m in lost revenue as a reason for rejecting the scheme.

Nevertheless, councillors are expected to ignore the advice and introduce the measure.

The council's transport and traffic committee, chaired by Labour councillor Andrew Montague, already recommended the adoption of the bye-laws.

In the Yellow Zone, the parking tariff is €2.90 per hour, Monday to Saturday, and €1.40 per hour on Sundays.

The fee in the Red Zone is €2.40 per hour.

Another clause making for a business parking permit has not been included in the final draft.

Such a pass would have meant business owners would have been exempt from paying hourly for parking outside their premises.