ARDEE Business and Traders Association have made crucial progress on the pay-parking talks with Louth County Council, talks they feel are vital to the business future of the town.
One hundred Ardee businesses are affiliated to the traders body which is looking for a two-hour free parking period each day to give shops in the town a chance to survive.
They are adamant that pay-parking is having an adverse effect on trade.
Mr Joe McGuinness, the county council’s Acting Manager for Ardee Area, has told the traders he will investigate how other towns have changed the parking by-laws to cope with the current endless economic recession.
In their talks with Mr McGuinness, Ardee Town Council, and mid-Louth county councillors, the Ardee traders cited Portlaoise as an example of a town that has introduced reductions in parking costs.
“It was a very good meeting,” said Ardee Town Councillor Dolores Minogue, “and there is a greater determination by everybody to find a compromise.
“Everybody is pulling together and trying to make this work. We can’t do much about the general economic slump, but we can do something about pay-parking and take steps to try and hold on to local jobs and keep local business moving.
“This meeting with the traders has brought people together and re-enforced a town community spirit.
“We need to come up with something practical now and make this work.”
The county council has incorporated the estimated revenue from pay-parking into the Ardee Town Council budget and getting this changed is the problem.
But the traders are pleased with the hands on practical approach of Mr McGuinness.
“We told him about several towns that have made some progress in tackling the situation,” a spokesperson for the traders delegation said.
“We talked about Portlaoise where a new scheme has been brought in which gives half-an-hour free parking each day.
“Once they are in that town people can move their vehicle and still avail of the free period.
“We need some move in that direction in Ardee. Previously we have been told that this sort of thing wasn’t feasible.
“Of course it’s feasible. The council has to realise that this is not just about balancing the books. It’s about jobs and livelihoods.
“There will not be any revenue from pay-parking if we can’t get people to come into the town.”
A second meeting has been fixed for 22 May when Mr McGuinness will announce his decision on the proposals put forward by the Ardee traders.
“If he comes back with something, great. At least we could put it to bed and get on with things,” the traders spokesperson said.