Calls were made this week for Mayo County Council to engage with NAMA over the condition of Market Lane in Westport. The laneway, which links the Mill Street car park in the town with Bridge Street, has been the scene of a number of trips and falls by members of the public, it was alleged, at the January meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District.
Independent Cllr, Christy Hyland, raised the issue saying a friend of his fell there recently and needed medical treatment following the fall. He went on to say: "There are a number of people falling in that lane on a regular basis. I walked it myself and it is breaking up, it has been going on since the town council days. Surely there is a duty of care for someone, if I was a retailer there trying to do business I'd be withholding my rates - it is not fair to the retailers or the public - it is terrible."
Fine Gael Cllr, Tereasa McGuire, added: "I know it is in private ownership but there must be something to be done - we have to be able to sit into negotiations with the people who own it. Because surely Market Lane is a mega-court case waiting to happen. It technically might not be ours, but we must have a moral duty of care. I would look for the council staff to meet with the owners and see is there some viable solution. It is very hard on the business, some of the slabs you walk on, the earth moves under them."
Head of the West Mayo Municipal District for Mayo County Council, Padraig Walsh, outlined the ownership situation of the lane, telling the elected members that: " It is a lane way that is in control of the council and it is quite clearly not of a standard that it could be taken in charge by the council or meet any standard of what a lane way of its type should meet.
"The development in there was in NAMA, it was purchased by the developer, the lane way, however remains in NAMA. There are also private services under the lane way which are also private, there is water and sewerage, which are also private and which would have to reach a standard to be taken in charge. There is no point in taking in charge a lane way and have services that might have problems underneath and you spend money to do the lane way and you have to do it again. The upgrade of the lane way would be a very substantial investment - there is no money to do that and I'm not sure if the developer who purchased from NAMA would be minded to do so."
Director of Services for the area for Mayo County Council, Catherine McConnell, told the members that they council could try to engage with the parties who own the properties and the lane way to see what could be done and she added that it might be beneficial to have an elected member involved, along with council officials, to put across the serious concerns that have been expressed by the public and councillors on the issue.