Councillor Pio Smith.
"The current debate on pay parking in Drogheda has sunk to the status of comedy, but the outcome is far from funny.”
So said Councillor Pio Smith following Monday night’s meeting of the Borough of Drogheda at which Councillors voted not to adopt the amended bye-laws as agreed at the Council's budget meeeting in December which included a reduction in parking charges.
“The majority of Councillors in Drogheda had previously voted to reduce the rate from €1.20 to €1 on the basis of fairness and equality with Dundalk, I was not one of them” he told Drogheda Life.
“To be honest, there never was any inequality. Dundalk had a rate of €1 and no free parking spaces while Drogheda had a rate of €1.20 and 200 plus free car parking spaces. The income stream from both towns in regards to pay parking were similar, despite the different charging regimes. Where was the inequality?
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“Given that the decision to reduce the rate was carried, my colleague Cllr Paul Bell and I sought to increase the rate back to €1.20 and ring-fence the 20 cent for spending in Drogheda.
“The CE of LCC, Joan Martin was against this move and said that if we succeeded in raising the rate then she would look for €1.30 at the County Budget meeting in December. In my opinion she would have failed, because Clanbrasil Street in Dundalk was due to be dug up in 2019 and Dundalk Councillors would never vote to increase the rate from 1 euro to 1.30 under such circumstances, hence Drogheda would benefit.
“However, the Mayor Cllr Godfrey, Sinn Fein Councillors and Cllr Kevin Callan voted against the proposal to ring-fence the money for Drogheda and to leave the rate at €1.
“This decision opened the door for the Chief Executive to propose at Louth County Council's Budget meeting in December an increase in pay parking for both towns to €1.20 and abolish the free parking in Drogheda.
“Cllr Paul Bell and I had reached agreement with most of the Dundalk Councillors to leave the free parking in Drogheda as it is, however, two Fianna Fail Councillors from Dundalk would not agree as they wanted equality with Drogheda, ie, if they were increasing the rate in Dundalk then Drogheda should lose the free spaces.
“This proposal was passed along with charging €1.10 for both Drogheda and Dundalk. This decision was brought to the Drogheda Borough District meeting on Monday 7th January for ratification.
“It was stated quite clearly at the meeting that if the proposal to charge €1.10 for pay parking in Drogheda was rejected then the rate would remain at €1.20, while the corresponding rate in Dundalk would be €1.10.
“The decision was in the hands of the Drogheda Councillors and the Mayor Cllr Godfrey, Sinn Fein Councillors and Cllr Kevin Callan voted to reject the proposal with the result being that Drogheda will lose free parking spaces and Dundalk will have a cheaper hourly rate than Drogheda.
“Now I can see where the inequality is."