HomeBussinessBig retailers still unhappy over council plans to cut car use in...

Big retailers still unhappy over council plans to cut car use in city centre


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The plan, which aims to reduce private car use in the city centre, is due to start taking effect from next month.

‘We would like more visibility and awareness on what the plan means, and on practical issues’

Junior Minister for Enterprise Emer Higgins has called for it to be postponed until next year.

The retailers’ concerns relate to deliveries, access for workmen who need to do emergency repairs, and the ability of staff and customers to get in and out of their premises.

Ibec, the business lobby group which has called for a pause in the plan’s implementation, said yesterday that there is a lack of clarity about the plan (which is still officially a “draft”)and its timelines.

“What we want is an improvement on communication with businesses about the plan,” said Aidan Sweeney, Ibec’s head of infrastructure and environmental sustainability. “We would like more visibility and awareness on what the plan means, and on practical issues, such as whether deliveries will be facilitated.

“We ned more information on the council’s website about timelines. No one know what they are.”

The draft plan on the Dublin City Council website has not been updated with the “tweaks” announced on Monday by the CEO, such as allowing cars turn left from Bachelor’s Walk onto O’Connell Street.

Richard Shakespeare, CEO of Dublin City Council Photo: Gerry Mooney

The Dublin City Centre Traders’ Association, which has claimed the transport plan will lead to job losses and business closures, has commissioned “independent” research into the impact.

On Monday, Mr Shakespeare told a council meeting he would wait to receive its report on the economic impact before deciding whether to proceed with the plan next month.

Formed by solicitor Noel Smyth, the traders’ association membership is dominated by the owners of city-centre car parks. The Restaurants Association of Ireland, Jervis Shopping Centre and tailor Louis Copeland are also members.

Asked who it has commissioned to do the research, a spokeswoman for the association said: “I have been instructed not to give any further detail on this until the report is released.”

Asked yesterday if the “tweaks” made by the city manager have changed the alliance’s view, she added: “Our understanding is that these changes to the transport plan have been brought about as a result of required consultation between Dublin City Council and the DPOs [disabled persons’ organisations].

“We have commissioned two reports which will examine the impact the plan will have on Dublin city economy and traffic management system.

“We await the findings of these reports, which we believe will better inform all stakeholders and parties of interest of the consequences of the proposed transport plan in its entirety. The first of these reports, which deals with economic impact, will be ready in 10 days.”

Donald McDonald, the chief executive of Brown Thomas Arnotts Ltd said: “We absolutely support encouraging people to make more sustainable transport choices, whilst also promoting the capital’s leisure and retail offering.

“We view these changes as necessary amendments to current traffic proposals to enable deliveries and access to city centre car parks.

‘One more change would help: allowing a right-hand turn off Bachelor’s Walk onto O’Connell Bridge’

“However, concerns remain about the viability of the transport plan to support and promote a vibrant city centre.”

The easing of proposed restrictions on the north and south quays of the Liffey has somewhat allayed the concerns of Dublin Town, a group with 2,500 members.

Instead of a 24-hour “bus gate” on Bachelor’s Walk, which would have stopped private traffic from turning left onto O’Connell Street, the restriction has been moved down to Eden Quay.

Richard Guiney, the CEO of Dublin Town, stresses that the group is in favour of the aims of the plan – less car traffic means more footfall – but said businesses have concerns around deliveries, and access for repairs.

On pedestrianised Capel Street, for example, he cites one incident when the toilets at a business became blocked and it was difficult to get plumbers in to do the repairs.

Restaurants that operate takeaways on the street have also faced challenges. Such practical problems should be solved at the planning phase, he said.

“In May, we had a good session between about 100 businesses and Dublin City Council to tease out the issues,” Mr Guiney said.

“A few changes were made to the plan. One more would help: allowing a right-hand turn off Bachelor’s Walk onto O’Connell Bridge.

“That would get traffic out of the city centre, and would not impact on the integrity of the plan. We have made good progress in the last month. One more change would really help.

“We understand that the city should not be used a throughway. In other cities, reducing traffic has worked.”

Overall, business groups mostly say they agree with the vision of the plan to make the city more pedestrian-friendly – but they want council officials to engage with the practical problems.

They also don’t want individual businesses who express concerns to be accused of holding up the entire plan.

To avoid this happening, Ibec has been forwarding questions from businesses to Dublin City Council on an anonymised basis.

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