Retailers linked to a car park lobby group could face a boycott from consumers if threatened legal action is taken against Dublin City Council’s plans to make more space for walking and cycling for a post-lockdown city.
Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance has threatened to take legal action against the council for its moves to make more space for walking and cycling.
The alliance has previously listed a number of companies as members — a mix of businesses which have interests in car parks, and some familiar names who have fought against sustainable transport changes in the city for decades.
The names listed in previous correspondence from the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance — which has no apparent website or social media presence — were Arnotts, Jervis Shopping Centre, Brown Thomas, Brown Thomas Car Park, Fitzwilliam Real Estate Capital and Westfield Investments. The names were not listed in recent correspondence.
A Freedom of Information request lodged by IrishCycle.com found that the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance had threatened action over interim Liffey Cycle Route works early this year. The group also previously threaten to take legal action over the planned pedestrianisation of a short section of Liffey Street Lower, which is a heavily used pedestrian link between the Ha’penny Bridge and the Hennry Street area.
Yesterday alliance’s spokesperson Noel Smyth accused the council’s CEO Owen Keegan of using COVID 19 of acting illegally.
In an email sent to the council, Smyth said: “…I submit you have no evidence nor has any study been carried out to support these moves and there is no legislation which you can rely on to by-pass the Planning Acts. Further it is my respectful submission that a vote of approval by the Councillors does not cure an illegality but in my opinion leaves the Council open to severe criticism in the Courts for supporting such measures without a minimum where you have produced legal advice confirming your entitlement to carry out this reconfiguration of the roads, access and egress into the City.”
However, despite the views of the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance, the Road Traffic Acts have clear provisions which allows councils to install a wide-range of traffic calming and management measures. Further cycling and bus priority measures were added to council’s powers when the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 amended the Road Traffic Acts.
RTE reported that Dublin City Council said it would deal with any legal action take in court.
In 2009, a number of businesses — including Brown Thomas and car park operators — took High Court action against the city council over the College Green bus gate, but failed to stop the council running its traffic management measures to give bus priority. Some concessions on time of operation of the bus gate were given by the council
IrishCycle.com understands that cycling campaigners previously discussed similar boycott action which never happened, but in this case a possible boycott is coming from a wider group of people on social media and seems to be stronger than ever. Example of people calling for a boycott or saying that they will personally boycott retailers include:
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I will be bringing my business elsewhere if these shops & car parks bring legal action against @DubCityCouncil for prioritising a healthier, more enjoyable, more friendly city centre. #LiffeyCycle https://t.co/ylScl0NaJw— Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (@aoibhinn_ni_s) May 12, 2020
It's long past the time to start boycotting the Dublin City Centre Traders Alliance. https://t.co/qh2y2KcqkY— Aidan Regan (@Aidan_Regan) May 12, 2020
Separately, another car parking lobby group, Irish Parking Association, said it was “dismayed” by the council’s report on creating social distancing space and providing sustainable transport in a post-lockdown city.
Keith Gavin, chairperson of the Irish Parking Association, said in a letter to the council: “According to stated local government policy ‘It is the task of the Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs), as committees of the council, to advise and assist the council in the formulation, development and review of policy’ and that ‘The SPC system is intended to give councillors and relevant sectoral interests an opportunity for full involvement in the policy making process from the early stages’.”
Despite the city council holding a special meeting on the interim Liffey Cycle Route measures, Gavin said: “Again, as with the recent measures regarding implementation of the ‘interim’ Liffey Cycle Route, the relevant Traffic & Transportation SPC appears to have been totally bypassed in this process.”
Gavin claimed the proposals in Dublin are “counter-intuitive and potentially highly damaging to the Government’s plans for a phased reopening of society and business”, but cities around the world — including London and Paris — are planning to using cycling as a tool to supplement low capacity on public transport due to social distancing requirements and expanded footpaths are seen by many councils and business groups as vital to restarting businesses.