A survey recently conducted in Ballinasloe found that 80 per cent of people were discouraged from shopping in the town as a result of paid parking.
Fine Gael Deputy Paul Connaughton presented the results last Wednesday at a meeting in Ballinasloe after the survey set out to uncover the factors that encourage and discourage consumers to shop in the town and which areas could be improved upon.
Deputy Connaughton asked if, given the current economic climate, any town could afford to discourage such large numbers of potential customers.
“Since I was elected, the topic of the decline in the retail trade in Ballinasloe has been raised with me time and again, by business people but more so by local people concerned about the fortunes of their town,” said Deputy Connaughton.
The survey revealed that parking and convenience were also deciding factors when it came to choosing a place to shop. Other concerns faced by many retailers in the town included the impact of the motorway on business.
Thirty per cent of survey respondants said that since the new motorway opened, they are more inclined to do their shoppong outside the town. A lack of low-price, high street chain stores was also forcing residents to look elsewhere for clothes.
Respondents noted the elimination of paid parking as a way of improving footfall in the town as well as the introduction of a greater range of shops.
Loughrea Councillor Pat Hynes feels that a similar issue exists in Loughrea and said that, “Galway County Council should impose no charge on a Saturday for the existing car parks to enhance the commercial trade in the town”.
However, local representatives in Tuam and Clifden feel that paid parking is one way of keeping the traffic and flow of people in the towns moving.
Labour Councillor Shaun Cunniffe explains that paid parking had been a success in Tuam.
“Providing it’s kept as cheap as possible, it does help the traffic flow, and retailers would support it,” he said.
Galway County Mayor Thomas Welby also added that he does not see it as an issue in Clifden and feels that towns without paid parking can suffer as a result of staff in businesses in the town centre taking up priority parking, forcing consumers further from the businesses.