— Controversy erupts over loss of just 10 parking spaces in Dublin village.
— Group makes fanatical claims that 312 or 52% of jobs would be lost.
— No traffic movement changes are planned to be made.
The Irish Times yesterday published an article with misinformation that 7,000 submissions to the Lucan Village project were “unique written submissions” when the reality is that that number includes two petitions and what the council termed “pro-forma” submissions.
The level of controversy which has developed over the loss of just 10 parking spaces in the village has been questioned by many observers, with a stark difference between 461 online submissions and 4,753 paper submissions.
South Dublin County Council said that the current on-street parking capacity within Lucan Village is 225 spaces and their plan would see an overall level of 215 on-street parking spaces being provided.
The reports on behalf of the objectors claimed the council’s analyses are flawed. but the council said also did not count spaces available in off-street car parks which are privately run but open for public use and it was not able to count current illegal parking spaces.
The council said that surveys conducted during May and November 2021, “along with several site visits”, have shown that “nearby areas of Main Street have underused existing on-street parking capacity at all times of the day”.
In a report to councillors, the council’s Chief Executive, Daniel McLoughlin said: “The broad conclusion that can be drawn from this evidence is that, whilst there will be a minor inconvenience for some drivers who may not be able to immediately find a parking space on Main Street, these drivers will be able to find access to on-street parking within a very short walk from the Main Street.”
The council said that it would increase blue badge parking and trial the use of ‘age-friendly parking spaces.
In an article headlined “More than 7,000 objections to ‘shameful’ revamp of Lucan village”, The Irish Times said “A total of 7,317 submissions were made on the proposal” and published a statement from the Lucan Village Business and Services Group that said “It is clear to us that adequate regard has not been paid to the many thousands of unique written submissions received during the consultation period.”
The Lucan Village Business and Services Group describes itself on its website as being “formed as a direct response to the SDCC Development Plan for Lucan Village”, but The Irish Times does not make this clear at any point in its article.
The newspaper takes a similar approach in framing new groups which were set up to object to cycling and walking projects as just normal residents or business groups — this happened with the high-profile Sandymount cycle route trial.
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With the Sandymount project, Dublin City Council even took the unusual step of calling out The Irish Times for publishing a video that included clear misinformation and asking for it to be corrected. It still remains on The Irish Times website apparently unedited.
With the Lucan project, while a report from South Dublin County Council’s Chief Executive also incorrectly says there were “a total of 7,317 submissions”, the breakdown shows that at least 2,100 of these were not submissions and clearly not “unique written submissions” but part of petitions. The written submissions also included “pro-forma” submissions.
Petitions are counted by other councils as just one submission due to previous cases of people’s names being fraudulently signed. In discussions on projects like this, council officials have also pointed out that paper petitions are often signed by neighbours or others to appease the persons running the petitions.
The breakdown provided by South Dublin County Council to local councillors ahead of the vote showed the following:
- SDCC Consultation portal: 461 submissions
- Paper submissions: 4,753 submissions
- Petition 1: 2,000 names
- Petition 2: 107 names
In the report to councillors, McLoughlin, said: “All the names listed on the petitions and 4,748 of the paper submissions were opposed to the scheme, almost exclusively because of the proposed reduction in car parking spaces. The view included in 5 of the paper submission was unclear.”
While The Irish Times reported claims that the changes to the village would “destroy” businesses, it did not report on the extent of the fantastical claims in the submission by the Lucan Village Business and Services Group.
In a submission on behalf of the “Lucan Village Business and Services Group, Kennys of Lucan, 7 Main Street, Lucan” by Hughes Planning and Development Consultants, Kevin Hughes said: “The report prepared by Dr. Martin Rogers concludes that main Street does not have any spare car parking capacity at present and that the reduction of available spaces from 46 no. to 16 no., with only 3 no. dedicated parking spaces before 11am, will decimate businesses in the area. Significant concerns are also raised over the viability of the 10 no. additional spaces proposed by SDCC as replacement parking spaces for those removed from Main Street.”
He added: “The Economic Report has estimated an economic impact of €8,125,028and an employment impact of a loss of up to 312 no. jobs in the Village, which corresponds to half of all 600 jobs in the Village. The estimate is increased when taking the number of customers who assess the Main Street area by private car, increasing the estimated loss at €8,321,439and an employment impact as a loss of up to 320 no. jobs or 53% of all 600 jobs in the Village.”
The Council’s CE, McLoughlin said: “The submission is based on a fundamental assumption whereby the percentage reduction in parking on Main Street results in an equivalent percentage reduction in turnover for businesses. This is not a legitimate economic relationship. This assumes that the elasticity of change in parking spaces versus change in turnover is 1, which is not a accurate economic assumption to make.”
He said that the number of customers cannot be determined by the number of cars and people would still be able to park their cars elsewhere in the village.
McLoughlin said: “South Dublin County Council believes that the planned public realm improvements for Lucan Village and Main Street will not result in job losses and business closures due to net reduction of 10 parking spaces. We firmly believe the proposed scheme will positively impact Lucan Village and Main Street in time through enhanced Financial, Economic and Health benefits.”
He added: “To inform this view we have looked at research on public realm improvements across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe that spans 39 Cities and Villages. The research cites extensive findings on the outcomes that have followed public realm improvement projects. In the majority of these Case Studies, where there typically was local opposition in advance, saw end state benefits that range from improved air quality, reduction in noise pollution, increased footfall for traders, enhanced public spaces/facilities…”