A review is to be carried out into the pay and display procedures in place in Ballinrobe and Claremorris.
€3 million has been spent by Mayo County Council on developing four car parks in the two towns, the loans for which are paid by pay and display charges.
A meeting of the Claremorris electoral area committee, which encompasses Ballinrobe, was told on Wednesday that €180,000 had been netted by pay and display charges in 2008, which went towards paying off the car park loans. The figure remained more or less the same in 2009, the meeting heard.
Some of the issues which local councillors want addressed in the review is the viability of offering a free half hour on-street parking, drop down zones, the abolition of later parking charges in Claremorris, and the under utilisation of some car parks. However according to a report the provision of a half hour free parking would not be viable and would be impossible to regulate. The councillors were told all these points should form part of the review. At 30c per half hour on-street and 30c per hour off-street, both towns enjoy the cheapest parking rates in the county.
The advantages of pay and display, according to senior executive officer Padraic Flanagan, is that it controls parking and funds the building of long stay car parks. The councillors agreed that the revenue generated from parking charges is crucial. However Cllr Damien Ryan raised the issue of multinationals operating on the edge of towns providing free parking which he said needed to be counteracted for town centre businesses which might be struggling to compete.
Cllr Patsy O’Brien said car parking charges should not be viewed as levies and said a special meeting on the review was needed. He said businesses were being hammered. There was also a call to abolish the late parking charges which operate in Claremorris from 6pm onwards on specific evenings. Cllr O’Brien said this charge was ‘crazy’ and ‘inequitable’.
Director of services for the area Seamus Granahan pointed out that offering free half hour parking could result in a 33 per cent loss in revenue which has not been budgeted for in any budget.
Traders in both towns will be invited to make submissions during the upcoming review.