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*A deserted Abbey St car park earlier this year. Photograph: John Mangan

Lack of car-parking spaces is limiting Ennis’ ability to entice shoppers and business to the town, elected representatives have maintained.

Prior to the implementation of Level 5 restrictions, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) tabled a motion to the Ennis Municipal District where he voiced his desire for a survey on the number of public car spaces in the town used by business proprietors and staff on a daily basis. He suggested that the Ennis MD complete the survey in tandem with the Ennis Chamber of Commerce.

A ground survey to determine the parking patterns of business permit holders within the town has already began, Leonore O’Neill senior executive officer confirmed. She admitted that there was no means at present to identify vehicles belonging to staff.

“We have a serious lack of parking in the town centre of Ennis, one of the main reasons for that is because of staff parking in public car parking spaces, it is affecting business,” Cllr Daly stated. He believed all councillors in the Ennis MD could carry out the survey themselves. “Behind the Cloister is a great addition but it is not enough,” he said of the additional 100 spaces sourced.

Daly believed a solution to the issue would be the construction of a multi-storey car park specifically for staff. “We would be the first town in Ireland to build a multi-storey car park for staff. It would be the making of the town”.

Professional organisations would be better equipped to identify how parking spaces could be utilised better, Cllr Mary Howard (FF) maintained. She said it was “frustrating” to see staff take “premium spots” in the town. “People are confused about who priority spaces for, someone thought it was for the parish priest”.

Director of Service, Carmel Kirby outlined that professional advice should be consider to underline ways in which the town “works from an enterprise perspective, parking is one element”. She added,
“We need to understand what questions we are trying to answer overall for the town of Ennis”.

Support for a staff only car park was voiced by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) as he volunteered to assist in a study on the car parking habits. “Car parking is a huge issue for one of Ireland’s most enterprising towns”. He added, “A survey at the minute would be false with a lot of workers now working from home. There is a need for a proper survey to be carried out.

Further support was voiced by Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) and Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), “the issue that we need to address is staff and workers to have an attractive parking option,” she commented.

Input of professionals was not required, Cllr Daly told the meeting. “They have nowhere else to park because the options aren’t there”.

Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) was of the view that a co-ordinated approach was essential on any survey.

“The Cloister is free, if there was an incentive for staff I would encourage them to park in the Cloister. One of key priority projects of Ennis 2040 plan is to provide a multi-story car park. We should proceed with identifying other locations for parking solutions,” Kirby concluded.

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