The resolution of the casual trading bay conundrum for the square in Kilbeggan was finalised this week, despite the debate descending into a party-political spat about whether or not to scrap flower beds for additional parking.
Last Friday May 31, the day the Government published its plans for a reduced county council, Cllrs Paul Daly (FF ) and Colm Arthur (FG ) clashed for a second time at the meeting of the Kilbeggan Area committee over the proposed re-design of the centre of the town, before chairman Cllr Joe Flanagan went along with the executive’s recommendation again to resolve the snarky dispute.
“Basically we’re going with the proposals as circulated. There’s space for trading on both sides [of the square],” said area engineer Pat Nally as he handed out the re-drawn map of the location.
Cllr Daly immediately proposed the committee accepts the recommendation, stating: “I don’t believe the removal of flower beds would add any more car parking spaces”.
“This is the latest compromise, and positions [trading] bays on both sides of the square,” said Pat Nally.
The new plan allows for three vehicular-sized trading bays for the Saturday markets only on the northern side of the square, and another four, regular, trestle-table sized bays on the south side.
There are also three disabled parking bays, and 24 normal parking spaces, which increases to 30 on all days bar Saturday.
However, Cllr Arthur was not happy and declared: “There’s a massive amount of people in Kilbeggan have a problem with this”.
“There’s not enough car park spaces in the centre of the village, and I have strong reservations about this. I am not pro-flower. People in Kilbeggan want car parking spaces instead of flowers,” he went on.
“Cllr Arthur didn’t go with the majority on the last issue [the playground] but now the people power is everything,” said Cllr Daly.
He pointed out that maintenance of the new landscaped areas on the square would be managed by the Tidy Towns committee, and not the county council, and he criticised Cllr Arthur for using his office for orchestrating submissions of objection on the issue.
Cllr Flanagan asked what the ratepayers of Kilbeggan felt about the traders, and was told by Cllr Daly: “After initial reservations, they’re behind it now. They understand it’s a plus to their businesses”.
He also pointed out that not one of the three remaining owners of properties on the square had criticised the plan or made a submission in relation to it.
“That probably explains why most of the submissions are from outside Kilbeggan,” noted Cllr Flanagan.
He felt that the recommendation of the executive, as supported by Cllr Daly, was the one with most merit and, holding the balance of power in the absence of Cllr Gerry Corcoran, voted the proposal through.
“We’re strapped for money, and if we go out digging up flower beds it sends out a terrible message,” he noted sagely.
He then pointed out that because of the administrative hiccup at the council on the issue of casual trading, the recommendation would not be formally adopted until at least the next full meeting of Westmeath County Council.