RGDATA has called on the government to save town centres from desertion by providing new national guidelines on car parking and smart travel.
The call comes after the organisation published a new report 'Nightmare On Every Street - Town Centres, Car Parking and Smart Travel' examining the challenges facing town centres due to restrictive parking regimes.
"Cash strapped local authorities are destroying the vitality of town centres in Ireland with extreme parking policies. High rates, fines and the threat of clamping are driving people out of town centres. This has created a nightmare on every street that requires urgent action," says RGDATA Director General Tara Buckley.
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The organisation is seeking new guidelines to end the parking policy inconsistencies of local authorities and help combat the pull of shoppers to out of town retail centres offering free parking.
Initiatives advised in the report include more graded parking fees and fines, more flexible payment mechanisms and innovative pricing structures, free parking days and set grace periods.
The report also proposes a levy on out of town free parking, to be imposed on the operator of the shopping centres and paid to the local authority.
"This report proves that this issue is directly causing business closures, job losses and the death of vibrant town centres in Ireland. If the government doesn't take this report into account and take specific action, this scourge will continue to drain the lifeblood from towns and villages. It's time to take action and end the nightmare," says Buckley.