“There will be no more retail in five or ten years”

Parking on Buncrana’s main street has become a ridiculous case of “spot the spot” according to an exasperated retailer.

Paul Brogan, owner of Food For Thought, a health food store in the seaside town, said Buncrana Main Street’s two-hour parking program was not being adequately enforced, to the detriment of area retailers , which customers could not park.

Donegal Live first highlighted the issue of people contravening Buncrana’s two-hour parking program by parking on Main Street all day, with impunity, in January 2019.

According to Paul Brogan, the situation has deteriorated further.

Mr Brogan said: “As someone who has worked in retail for 24 years, thanks to the closure of Fruit of the Loom, the bank guarantee and two changes of premises, I know how to run a successful business.

“I wonder if the same could be said of people sitting at a distance, in Donegal County Council offices, who don’t seem to appreciate the negative impact of cars sitting all day on Main Street on commerce. from the city ?

“The two-hour parking regulation is not enforced. I first informed the Donegal Council in November 2018. Since then I have had considerable correspondence with the Council, which has proved unsatisfactory in terms of resolving the situation.

“I fully understand that there are other issues including mica and Covid-19 and, perhaps, the abuse of the two-hour parking program is not the biggest problem for everyone. , but, at the same time, it is a big problem for thousands of people who might come to Buncrana for shopping.

“I know this because Food For Thought has a loyalty program that currently has over 5,000 members. 5,000 different people walked into my store to buy merchandise, so we’re talking about thousands of people affected by the two hour parking program debacle.

Mr Brogan surmised that it was impossible to say how many businesses would have survived Buncrana if the Donegal County Council parking section had done its job well.

He said: “My highlighting of this problem is not a criticism of traffic officers, who only do what they are told to do or, maybe, what they are not told. to do. It is the parking section of Donegal County Council that does not enforce the two hour parking program on Main Street Buncrana.

The Parking section described the program’s application as ‘adequate’ in my correspondence. He said he carried out surveys and took photographs.

“The photographs she will produce are those of Lower Main Street, where there is no big problem. The other photographs he is looking at were taken at 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, when no one is around. Customers coming to Buncrana Main Street on a Monday afternoon will not be parked.

“My fear would be that there would be no retail business in Buncrana Main Street in five or ten years. In my experience, people who continuously park on Main Street for more than two hours do not receive parking tickets.

“I have no problem with parking residents on the street. They have the right to do so. But, they too may have difficulty parking outside their home because the two-hour program is not applied.

“What does Council mean by ‘adequate’ at 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon when the city is extremely busy? We might have five or six cars driving through town and all five or six looking for a parking space, but they don’t find any. So, is “adequate” just one space for traveling customers? No, this is not the case. There should be five or six places available.

At least 12 cars were parked on the main street in Buncrana all day on Friday (November 12), according to Brogan.
He added: “I would consider it lazy, selfish and reckless, but it’s not really the drivers fault as they have been allowed to do it for years. The problem has worsened since the Council offices moved to Buncrana Main Street, which begs the question, “Do Council staff also park all day?” ”

“A customer came to see me this morning and told me he had been driving for ages before he could get a parking space. I hear this complaint on a weekly if not daily basis.

“The customer laughed and said, ’30 minutes of free parking, but only if you can get a spot! ”

“The Council is fine to give people 30 minutes of free parking but, by allowing people to park all day in violation of the regulations, customers, especially people with reduced mobility, cannot get a parking space. appropriate parking.

“Parking on the main street in Buncrana looks like an episode of Father Ted. It is a comedy. We have a two hour parking program, but by the way, there’s only one spot available, if you can find it. Locate the place.

Mr Brogan predicted that Christmas shopping would be very difficult for the thousands of people who would like to shop in Buncrana.
He said: “We are entering a wetter period in December and I think a lot of these people have gotten used to parking all day.

“However, with the lights coming on on Friday, I would like to highlight this problem of the lack of parking for the thousands of potential customers who come to Buncrana to do their Christmas shopping.

“When I was involved with the Chamber of Commerce, we agreed to support the introduction of the two hour parking program. However, it is certainly not implemented the way we have been led to believe.

“If Donegal County Council does what it is supposed to do regarding the two hour parking program, it would be greatly appreciated by hundreds of mothers and fathers with children, as well as the elderly or those in need. reduced mobility, who do not have to go around three or more times to have a parking space, because there is none, or go to the parking lot and walk with the children in rainy weather.

He said sorting out parking on Buncrana’s main street would improve Buncrana’s unique customer experience and boost employment.

“We all want to see Buncrana prosper and no one more than me. Over the years, I have served on the St. Patrick’s Day Committee, Chamber of Commerce, Buncrana Festival Committee and the Inishowen Credit Union, formerly Buncrana Credit Union, as well as the Simon Community.

“I was born and raised in Buncrana and I am very proud of the city. And, I highlight the parking problem as it negatively affects the retail industry and the thousands of customers it generates. Donegal County Council is not creating jobs. This creates an environment conducive to job creation for businessmen and if this does not happen in Buncrana, we will lose the businesses there, ”he warned.

In a statement to the Inish Times, regarding Buncrana’s two-hour parking program, County Donegal said: applicable, this includes 2007 Parking Places Bye-Laws applicable to Buncrana where there is a maximum stay of 2 hours in some streets.

Donegal Cathaoirleach, Jack Murray, who spoke to Mr Brogan, said it was absolutely vital for Buncrana that local small businesses receive all possible support.

Cllr Murray said: “These businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy and employ a significant number of local citizens.

“As such, I would ask everyone in Buncrana not to park on the main street for extended periods of time.

“The very reason the old Buncrana town council introduced a free half hour parking was that all people call briefly to support local shops and move on.

“People need to be aware of the damage that can be done to businesses when customers cannot park. They could go elsewhere and spend money that could be in Buncrana in other areas.

“I have asked that the council enforce maximum parking more strongly, but I would particularly ask everyone to be attentive, to support your friends and neighbors by doing your part to help keep spaces free on the main street. “