Overall Score – 3 out of 5
Millfield Shopping Centre in Balbriggan opened in 2011 with Tesco Extra as the flagship tenant. Tesco has a big selection of baby equipment and clothing. There is also a Boots pharmacy in the shopping centre. It only has a small selection of baby goods but you can order from their more extensive online stock and collect in-store. Therefore even though Millfield isn’t as large as some shopping centres, it is really handy for new mums who want quick access to baby essentials, and while you are there you might be tempted by a few of the clothes shops for yourself too.
In the past year Millfield has also started putting on family friendly events to bring in more customers. I attended a baby sleep talk hosted by Tesco that was really useful.
There are two coffee shops both with great views out over Balbriggan. The Costa in particular has a well laid out seating area, with barriers and high backed chairs that offer some privacy when breastfeeding.
When they designed Millfield they put some thought into making it family friendly, and there are three fast lifts between the floors for easy access. There are baby changing facilities in both the men’s and women’s toilets which is a nice touch.
They designed the car park really well too, with extensive spacious parent and child parking spaces. However, this is where things take a turn for the worse. Even though there are lots of spaces I have never manged to get one as they are always full. As I am parked a few rows back struggling with my car seat and pram base I always see single people returning to their cars in those spaces. I have never once seen security from the centre enforce the parent and child parking (although they are quick enough to ask kids to stop loitering upstairs).
It really annoys me that people have become so selfish. They think their convenience and saving themself a walk of a few metres is more important than anything else. Maybe they don’t know how difficult it is to get a pram in and out of a car, or that getting a car seat out when the door doesn’t open fully is nearly impossible and very stressful if your child is starting to get upset. However ignorance is no excuse, they still know those spots are not intended for them.
Last week I saw a man with two teenage sons using the spaces. Yes he is technically a parent with children but they don’t need any extra space to get in and out the car. He should remember what it is like to have young children and know better.
At ground level it gets even worse. There are a few lay-bys for taxis, good deliveries and bus stops. Every day there are cars parked in them, even though there are hundreds of free spaces in the car parks. There are also cars hanging out of them and blocking the road. A few weeks ago a car completely blocked the exit ramp to the car park and people had to drive out the in ramp. Yet still I have never once seen them being challenged.
When people see others doing it, it is like a licences for everyone to put themselves first and not care about their impact on others. “Yes I’m blocking the road but someone else did it first” . I saw someone say online that people who choose to have kids should put up with the consequences, but we live in a society and a community and should support each other. If we don’t believe in supporting each other, we should just cut social welfare and only look out for ourselves and it will be like an episode of The Walking Dead. I know it’s only parking and not important, but I think it represents a lot of what is wrong in our culture where we have lost empathy for other people.
People might will say I should speak up and challenge them, but it’s stressful enough going to the shops with a bay without getting a load of abuse from a stranger, and people can be so aggressive now.
Unfortunately it really puts me off going to Millfied in the car. It’s a shame because they are trying to be seen as a family friendly shopping destination, and are putting lots of effort into events, but I would rather drive to somewhere else where I’m not going to get annoyed at the parking situation. I’ve heard in the UK Tesco have started fining people who park inappropriately in designated spots, so fingers crossed the centre management here might look at doing something similar here.
(out of 5)
|Baby change||3||Two disabled toilets in both men and women’s toilets, containing changing table, sink and bin. Clean and spacious, but sink and bin big reach from the changing table.|
|Mummy toilets||3||Disbaled toilet in with the bay changing facilities|
|Parking||2||There are lots of spaces, but the spacious parent and child ones are always full.|
|Breastfeeding||2||No dedicated facilities provided, but Costa is quite a private place to go.|
|Accessibility||5||Good – there’s plenty of lifts and travellators and nice wide doors to access the changing/feeding facilities.|
Note: All opinions are my own and based on my experiences – if you feel I have missed something please let me know and I will endeavour to revisit.