Constructive meeting sees progress made on contentious parking issue

A letter outlining the main problems with the operation of Mallow’s pay parking system is to be sent to Mallow Town Council and each of the town’s 9 councillors, and a commit-ment has been made by Mallow Chamber to produce thousands of leaflets clearly outlining the details of the parking system: these were the main findings of a public meeting held at the Arches Bar last Monday. Almost 70 business owners from the town attended the gathering, where a number of pressing issues were raised. A letter of apology from Town Clerk Liz Donovan was read to the assembled crowd. Ms Donovan, as well as other members of the Council Executive was due to attend to discuss the forthcoming streetscape development. Minister of State Sean Sherlock was also unable to attend as he had to attend the Labour Party pre-Dail think in.

“Overall, we were delighted with the turnout”, says Chamber President Mary Kelly. “We intentionally issued an open invitation to each and every business, whether they were a member of the chamber or not as there are a lot of changes coming down the tracks for our town and we should all be as informed about them as we can”.

Although not officially on the agenda, the issue of parking was raised during the meeting and a lively debate ensued. Greengrocer Liam Sheehan wondered why there was no promotion of the more positive aspects to the parking system, such as free parking before 10am and after 5pm. His views were echoed by McDonald’s owner Jim Ronayne, who claimed there was a lack of ‘cop-on’ being shown by the wardens, and Stephen Feerick of the Gallery Bar who said the taking of photographs was intimi-dating elderly shoppers in some cases.

Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald attempted to clarify the situation regarding a ‘grace period’ once a ticket had expired, saying that there was a 10 minute window where a ticket could not be issued, while those gathered said their understanding was that it was 20 minutes and that it was a prime example of the lack of clarity over the entire pay parking system.

“Mallow Chamber will take all the valuable feedback from Monday’s meeting and write on behalf of the business people of the town directly to the Town Council outlining these ongoing concerns. The Chamber has also made a financial commitment to help promote the more positive aspects of the system so that customers can relax and enjoy the shopping experience our traders are providing”, says Mary Kelly.

The meeting also heard from Michael Hanley of the North Cork Enterprise Board who invited business people to make contact with the Board in the event they were unable to get funding from banks, and outlined details of upcoming training programmes over the Autumn. He praised Mallow for showing a keen interest in upskilling and urged them to continue fostering that into the future.

Sergeant John Kelly from Fermoy Garda Station told the attendance that Mallow has a low crime profile in general, but that the biggest threat to business was from international gangs who take advantage of low cost flight prices to come to Ireland to embark on crime sprees, targeting high quality goods from pharma-cies and mobile phone shops in particular.

Keeping CCTV cameras in good working order was also highlighted as critical to solving business crime. Sgt Kelly told the surprised crowd that 95% of CCTV cameras were not up to standard. He outlined various scams that local traders should be aware of, and encouraged people to sign up to the Garda text alert system, operated by the Chamber office.

Niall Walsh of Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership encouraged everyone to submit their business details to be included on a mobile phone application which will act as a directory of services for North Cork, while Brian Cahill of the Mallow Systems Innovation Centre encouraged entre-preneurship, informing the assembled group that innovation vouchers were available for those who had business concepts they would like to see developed. The vouchers would allow €5000 be spent on trying to develop and commercialise the idea.

The meeting also saw consensus on Friday December 6th as the date for turning on the town’s Christmas lights, a sub-committee established to examine various new Christmas lighting concepts for the town, and work will begin on promoting special Christmas offers and opening hours in the lead-up to Christmas.