Fingal County Council has run up against vocal opposition to the pedestrianisation of New Street, Malahide. Three weeks into the pilot project, which sees one of the town’s main commercial streets closed to motorised vehicles, local businesses and residents have started a campaign to highlight their strong objections to the council’s actions and the one -sided nature of the public narrative.
The “Save Malahide Village” campaign has over forty local businesses and many houses in the area displaying distinctive red and yellow posters in their windows in support. This is complemented by a social media campaign that has attracted much local interest. The objective of the campaign is to increase visibility of their concerns and have the street re-opened immediately with a view to having a full public consultation about the plans.Local businesses, including advocacy group Shop Malahide, and frustrated residents in the vicinity decided to take action as they felt the council was neither seeking or listening to their feedback. The pedestrianisation had been mooted as part of the “Walk Bike Fingal” scheme to facilitate social distancing. However, residents and businesses were not adequately consulted or notified of the proposals, resulting in significant discontent. At the core of the concerns are traffic flow, access to the seaside village, and the timing of this trial. Áine McCabe, local pharmacist and Shop Malahide co-founder explained, “The pedestrianisation of New Street has a wider effect than simply closing a road for people to walk on. It impacts on traffic flow around the village, public order, and business. Parking, while a peripheral issue, is also a concern. The narrative put forward by Fingal County Council didn’t acknowledge that there had been inadequate public consultation and gave the impression that the change was being universally welcomed. We have very real concerns that need to be heard and so decided to challenge that narrative. We are not against change, we just want the right change, for our village.Our campaign could be misrepresented as being anti-cycling or anti-walking. That could not be further from the truth. We very much welcome the visitors and residents who cycle and walk to the village and the custom they bring. We believe there is a balance to be struck between facilitating the needs of cyclists and ensuring that traffic flows easily.”