Making the case for O’Connell Street

A row of cars parked on O’Connell Street. The large number of cars with residential permits is proving problematic for local businesses. PHOTO: Mick Wall

A row of cars parked on O’Connell Street. The large number of cars with residential permits is proving problematic for local businesses. PHOTO: Mick Wall

“The council can’t have it both ways”
PARKING proved to be the dominant cause of concern at a meeting between O’Connell Street traders and City Councillors last week.
Cllrs Eddie Mulligan (FF), Jim Griffin (SF), Jason Murphy (FF) and Joe Kelly (Ind) met with a number of O’Connell Street traders at The Granary Café on Wednesday morning last.
Traders feel that O’Connell Street has suffered as a result of parking regulations, lack of footfall and other issues.
The majority of parking spaces on the street are occupied by residential permit holders.
Traders say this has resulted in a lack of available parking spaces for customers or those requiring space for deliveries.
It’s been claimed that the majority of permit holders do no actually live on O’Connell Street and are actually residing in neighbouring areas such as Penrose Lane.
According to Nicky Ryan of ‘All Things Pre Loved’, 80 per cent of parking spaces on the street are occupied by cars with residential permits.
“Is this a residential or commercial area? The Council can’t have it both ways,” Mr Ryan said at last week’s meeting.
He pointed out the huge amount of parking tickets which have been issued on the street – which is proving to be a deterrent for existing and potential customers.
Mr Ryan claimed O’Connell Street was being “targeted” for the issuing of parking tickets.
He said there is an urgent need to change bye-laws in relation to parking in the area.
“We don’t want them changed next year, we want them changed now. We’re being hit and hit and businesses are closing. This is gone beyond a joke. We need something done now,” he said.
Marie Grubb of Grubb & Co has to contend with double yellow lines outside her shop.
“So, theoretically, nobody can park outside my shop,” she said.
“My son parked there one night while he was in the shop and got a ticket from the Gardaí. Because of the nature of my business, people need to be able to carry heavy pictures. They end up having to go round the block and wait for a space.”
She said it’s an issue which a lot of her customers mention.
“Even a student got a ticket there. I felt very badly about it. He was only buying something for five or six euro and ended up getting a ticket,” she said.
Ms Grubb said the issuing of parking tickets appears to be a “lucrative business” on O’Connell Street.
She also spoke of the problems she faces with receiving deliveries and highlighted other issues facing O’Connell Street.
“I’m just not getting enough for the amount of rates I’m paying to the Council. I have no parking, no loading bay and no lighting,” she said.
“The lighting is poor, and in winter people won’t come over this far. They say it’s too dark. Waterford City Centre seems to end at Gladstone Street. Nothing happens down here, regardless of what festival is on.”
Chris James of General Office Supplies Ltd. says Waterford City & County Council has to decide if O’Connell Street is to be treated as a residential or commercial area.
“Are we residential or commercial? And if we’re not commercial, why are we paying rates to the Council?” he said.
One of the main problems faced by Mr James is the issue of cars with Council permits parking on Thomas Hill (opposite his premises) which has a limited amount of parking spaces.
“There are numerous cars there all day, every day, in what is supposed to be a two hour zone,” he said.
“Therefore, people who want to run into our shop for quick business cannot find parking.”
Meanwhile, Laura Flynn at Pet Paradise says many of her suppliers have raised concerns with her.
“I deal with people from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Northern Ireland. They have all voiced concerns,” she said.
One supplier referred to the “intolerance” shown by traffic wardens in Waterford City which “is not conducive to business”.
The supplier said they couldn’t risk receiving further parking tickets because of a lack of suitable loading bays.
“He wants to deliver to me but wants to charge me for the courtesy of receiving the delivery from him. It’s an added burden,” she said.
Ms Flynn said her customers also face similar issues.
“There’s no denying that the parking here is not an issue. It absolutely is,” she said.
She believes Waterford City & County Council seem to have forgotten about O’Connell Street.
“I don’t think it was deliberate, I think the area just fell to the wayside,” she said.
“The development of the North Quays and the Apple Market came to the forefront and, unfortunately, to the detriment of O’Connell Street.”
She highlighted the proximity of three of Waterford’s hotels, and says many tourists walk along O’Connell Street when they come out of these hotels.
“I meet tourists all the time who ask for directions. This is their first impression. We need to be creating the correct impression to have repeat tourism,” she said.
In response to the concerns which were raised at last week’s meeting, Cllr Eddie Mulligan highlighted the importance of “looking at best practice” in order to examine what is happening in other areas and referenced Kilkenny as an example.
“There are a number of parking slots scattered around the city where you have 15 minutes free parking,” he explained.
He pointed out that he had looked for a similar service to be provided in Waterford to allow for 30 minutes free parking, but said this was unfortunately voted down.
The issue of unused spaces allocated for buses at the back of Treacy’s Bridge Hotel was also highlighted.
Cllr Mulligan said he has sent many photographs to Council officials showing that these designated spaces are empty during the working day.
He believes that discussions are now taking place to restore 50 per cent of those spaces to help alleviate parking issues.
Cllr Mulligan assured traders that efforts were being made to address the issues they raised.
He said “momentum has been building”, but explained that a process of consultation is involved in order to bring about changes.
“To change the bye-laws will take a period of approximately six months,” he said.
He highlighted the need to get the other Councillors who represent the Metropolitan District on board in support of the changes which are being sought.
In relation to deliveries, Cllr Mulligan said he understands the needs of the traders but also pointed out that Waterford City & County Council often receives complaints about large trucks making deliveries in the city centre as this can discourage footfall.
He said safety issues can arise when trucks are delivering at busy times, and explained the need to try to get deliveries into Waterford by 12pm where possible.
“It’s about finding a solution that will keep everyone happy,” said Cllr Mulligan.

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