Present: Kevin O’Regan (Municipal District Officer), Maurice Manning (Director of Services), Madeline Healy (Area Engineer, Carrigaline Area Roads Office)
Chair: Cllr Deirdre Forde
Report on Douglas Woollen Mills Car Park
Cork County Council has notified the owner of the site that they will be terminating the lease. The lighting, CCTV, kiosk, etc are to be removed in an orderly way. The site was unsuccessful as a car park.
Cllr O’Laoghaire: Some business owners said that they were afraid to use the car park.
Cllr Collins: That particular car park wouldn’t have been used even if the car parking was for nothing. The area was a problem. The fact that it was paid parking meant that it was even less attractive. The distance from the main street in Douglas was also a huge problem.
Cllr Forde: Such a pity it wasn’t a success. People did not want to walk. Accept may have felt unsafe at nighttime. Entrance wasn’t ideal. The trial is a cost to be borne – we must accept that.
Cllr D’Alton: It is such a shame that this didn’t work. There clearly is a demand for long-term parking in Douglas. The roads closer to the city are destroyed with cars during the day from people parking to get the bus.
Maurice Manning: The need for long term parking was identified as one of a package of measures for control of parking in Douglas. Demand for long-stay was identified. Believes the demand is still there and if a suitable alternative can be found, they are happy to look at it. There is no penalty for getting out of the lease.
Cllr Harris: Is there any commercial benefit to the publicans in the area for taking it over?
Cllr Forde: Has spoken to publicans. Trouble is, it’s owned by someone else so we can’t very well offer it to anyone else. CCC is only a tenant. People just didn’t want to use it. When the bridge into the city is erected (to Kinsale Road) it might have come into its own a little more.
Kevin O’Regan: Will ask Peter O’Donoghue to get figures on how much has been spent.
To consider the following Notices of Motion in the name of Cllr. Seamus McGrath:
“To seek approval from the committee to instigate the formal process for amending the Douglas Pay Parking Bye Laws as follows:
a) To introduce a system whereby the first hour of parking is free of charge.
b) To allow residents within the Douglas pay parking area to park within the same time limit zone as their property is located, by virtue of their parking permit”.
c) That parking charges would not apply after 6pm as opposed to 6.30pm.
Cllr McGrath: How do we go about amending the bye-laws. Traders and business people have a huge problem with the system of pay parking currently in Douglas. It is a deterrent for people going into the area. Traders are competing with shopping centres which are providing free parking.
Cllr Desmond. Lives in Douglas. Sees the effect it is having on the businesses. Douglas is paying the price for what was badly handled day one. This issue of pay parking went to the SPC 7 months ago now for deliberation. There has been no progress.
Cllr O’Laoghaire: We spoke to businesses locally. Very concerned with the impact on them. Also concern in terms of how it is being managed. Also spoke in support of people being able to park outside their own homes.
Cllr D’Alton: Supports very strongly what the previous members have said. Also from Douglas and can speak personally of how impossible the pay parking makes doing business in the village. Reads from the Local Government Reform Act which states the powers of the municipal districts (MDs). Clearly states that pay parking is something the MD can decide for itself. So can see no reason why the CE wants us to wait while the SPC works up a countywide policy.
Cllr Collins: 3 different situations in 3 different urban areas of this MD. Carrigaline has no pay parking, Ballincollig has more leniency and Douglas has a very strict regime. Suggests that we need an overall approach and thinks we need to agree a strategy for all the 3 towns. Some people look on pay parking positively because they believe that the money collected returns services to their towns as it did in the days of Town Councils.
Cllr Canty: In Ballincollig, there is 1 hour free on the main street, 3 hours free in the car park. Have traffic warden. Will have to look at it right across the municipal authority area. Then we have to go to the Council with it once we have decided amongst ourselves. Some of the money is supposed to go back to the area it was raised. Traffic warden is brilliant. Ballincollig is happy the way things are. Only problem is, the regime tends to drive long term parkers off into the estates.
Cllr Harris: Very well thought out motion. Totally disagrees with Canty and Collins that we have to do a pay parking scheme across the board. Douglas is like living in a police state. Fines are a joke. €60 of a fine off people on €200/week. Mothers trying to drop off kids, drop back stuff. Fine increases if you don’t pay. No point in having a money spinner if it is going to cause that pressure on people. The fining system doesn’t define who has income and who doesn’t.
Cllr O’Donnabhain: Residents are now being prosecuted for contravention of the bye-laws. Have to address this.
Cllr Forde: Big issue around Douglas has been a period of free grace. Has no issue with the 3 points that Cllr McGrath has raised. Don’t know whether we can decide today. St Columba’s terrace is happy – they can access their houses. So it is bringing some benefits.
Maurice Manning: Members are familiar with all of the reports that have been given about pay parking. Unanimous view amongst the members that how it operates in Douglas needs to be reviewed. CE asked about where the responsibility lay. Legislation is very clear. If pay parking bye-laws are to be amended, Cllr D’Alton is correct and the Act says it will be the MD who will do it. But the DoE has brought in Regulations since to support the Act and CE thinks that pay parking would be one of those issues to which the Regulations refers which gives rise to inconsistencies. If we want to send it to CPG we can or else we can wait.
Cllr Desmond: Where is the consistency element starting and ending? Within our own MD, we have inconsistencies? Does Douglas have to pay the price whilst we wait to iron it out? If something is not working as in the case of the Woollen Mills, we pull out. This is not working either. People already affected by flooding and got no rebate on rates.
Cllr McGrath: This is a test of the MD. We were told that parking bye-laws were one of the key issues. Propose that we instigate the formal process. Thinks overall county wide review is a flawed process anyway. Thinks would be impossible to get a solution that fits all situations. Not inconsistent at all. We’re trying to relax the Douglas parking situation, thereby creating consistency.
Cllr Harris: Doesn’t understand the CE’s opinion. Would not try to second guess people in Ballincollig. Why would they try to do the same to people of Douglas. There is an atmosphere of intimidation in Douglas, it is a no go area.
Cllr Collins: Agrees with Cllr McGrath. Have to force the issue. Maybe by putting it before the SPC in September, we are forcing the CE’s hand. It’s not just because of pay parking that places are closing down. It is economic reality as well.
Cllr Canty: I proposed way back that it would go to SPC. What Cllr McGrath has suggested is just rational. Will be January by the time it comes onto the agenda.
Cllr O’Laoghaire: Too much is being made of consistency. Nobody mentioned Passage and Togher when they were listing out the towns in the MD. There are different needs across all three areas.
Maurice Manning: The SPC was asked to develop a set of guidelines across the County. It will be back on their agenda when they meet in September. It is a separate issue as to where the guidelines will be implemented. The guidance that is being developed is about where pay parking is at present.
Cllr Harris: Why should we refer it to the CPG?
Maurice Mannning: CE saw it on the agenda and said it would be inconsistent if we passed it here. Accept or refer to CPG.
Cllr O’Donnabhain: Motion refers to what is current and happening.
Cllr D’Alton: Cannot understand how when bottom up approach has been recognised all over Europe as being the most sustainable approach to local decision making that we have to wait for policy to come to us from the top. Better to decide what our agreed policy is and present it to the CE, not wait for the SPC.
Cllr Collins agrees we should put it on the agenda.
Maurice Manning: If we pass the motion today, it goes to the CPG. The CPG adjudicates and reports back to the MD members. IF the CPG accepts what we say, then it comes back to us for decision. If the CPG agrees with the CE, then we’ll have to wait for a countywide policy. It is true that pay parking is a MD function but the Act has been developed by the Regulations. But pay parking cannot be introduced in any towns unless the MD introduces it.
Cllr O’Donnabhain: Motion looks to modify an existing situation. What are the CE’s powers to veto a motion passed here?
Agreement that it would go to the CPG.
(ii) “This committee requests that contact be made with Utility Companies to remove disused poles in Shanbally Village”.
Madeline Healy: Doesn’t think there is any issue with that. MD Committee will write.
(iii) “Given that residents in Douglas affected by the 2012 flooding incident are now paying significantly higher Insurance premiums, to request a written report from the Council in response to this unjustified situation”.
Cllr McGrath: Has been contacted by residents in St Columba’s Terrace. Their insurance premiums are significantly higher this year than before the flood event.
Maurice Manning: There is a study of the Ballybrack Catchment underway. If there are proposals arising out of that, CCC will convey the details to insurance companies.
Cllr Forde: Insurance premiums fall due at different times and this is one of the problems. CE says that if an insurance premium jumps dramatically, to refer it to him. While there are court cases ongoing as a result of the flooding, reports cannot be accessed. Manager said at the time that CCC would contact the Insurance Federation if it was necessary. He said he would also give assurance of ongoing flood management measures and maintenance by CCC. Manager did advise that the Douglas flooding was a one-off event.
Suggested CCC would renew contact with the insurance federation to try to reduce premiums.
Picnic tables in Passage West
Cllr Murphy: A proposal to install three picnic tables was passed by Passage West Town Council. Then we agreed after the residents complained that we would settle for two. What is happening?
Kevin O’Regan: One resident quite vociferous and says would be willing to take legal action should the picnic tables go in opposite their residence. Some residents opposite the second location have concerns there too. If we go ahead it could end up costing the Council a lot of money in defending a court action.
Cllr O’Laoghaire: This location is the best asset Passage has. Thinks we shouldn’t be overriding the decision of Passage West Town Council. We need to endorse the decision taken by the Town Council.
There was a great deal of discussion on this issue because it has been contentious locally. The decision taken by the Town Council was taken in good faith and it was believed that the picnic tables would enhance the area. But when residents heard of the proposal, they became very concerned and made these concerns known. The Town Council decided to go ahead with the proposal anyway.
Although Cllrs D’Alton, McGrath and Forde suggested caution and going through a process of consultation on the issue because of the concerns raised by local residents about potential anti-social behaviour, because Cllr Murphy proposed that the tables should be installed and Cllr O’Laoghaire seconded, the meeting concluded that the picnic tables will go ahead.
Marmullane Tennis Club site, Passage West
Cllr Murphy asked what was happening to this site. It is becoming overgrown again. There were supposed to have been grand plans drawn up. So where are they at?
Cllr D’Alton explained that the plans are still there but that the County Council had applied for Sports Capital Funding to obtain sufficient money to go ahead. Cllr Forde said that the site had not been granted funding – the allocations have been made. Maurice Manning said that none of the Cork County Council projects were awarded funding this year.
Cllr D’Alton said that Cork County Council had taken this project away from the community. It was a landmark project and they said they wanted to run it. The community has asked several times could we even run it together in the hope of getting it off the ground but the answer has always been no.
Maurice Manning: Cork County Council is still committed to the project, it is just that funding is the problem.
Cllr D’Alton asked about derelict sites. A report on these will be presented to the MD quarterly.
Maurice Manning: Note that any proposals for economic development should come through the MD. As the council is currently structured, Economic Development is a county-wide budget. Whether that will develop to funding streams for specific MDs will have to be seen in Budget 2015. There is a provision for general allocation for MDs. If these isn’t a specific budget at local level, that is not to say that there isn’t a similar budget for each MD at a county wide level. The members will determine what system of funding in this area comes to MDs after the budget. There will be some discretionary spend at local level.
Cllr Forde recommends that all councillors should think about how we would like to see the MDs evolving. There is scope within the Act to develop them more. Thinks MD can be quite powerful. Good time to press the importance of the Municipal District when we are having our individual meetings with the CE.
Madeline Healy introduces Don O’Sullivan, the chief engineer in the Ballincollig Area.