During last Thursday night’s Westport Town Council meeting the controversial issue surrounding the zoning of the Bank of Ireland garden, as part of the town’s development plan, was finally decided on by town councillors as a proposal was supported to zone the garden 75 per cent open space and 25 per cent town centre.
Legal advice was given to councillors regarding modifying the initial proposal of zoning the garden 65 per cent open space and 35 per cent town centre, as any modification may lead to a legal challenge.
Councillor Christy Hyland proposed that “a minor modification” to this proposal be made to change the amount of open space and town centre to 75 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, as submitted on a map which he furnished. This proposal was seconded by his party colleague Cllr Michael McLaughlin, however there was a counter proposal from Cllr Margaret Adams, who along with her fellow Fianna Fáil councillor, Brendan Mulroy, did not want to amend the recommended proposal as this could lead to a legal challenge. Apart from the fact that they were dealing with private property, they also did not want the town council to be brought through the rigours of the court. This counter proposal was defeated with all other councillors voting against it, therefore the modified proposal was passed.
Town manager Peter Hynes said that “democracy has spoken” and if the council is challenged, “so be it”.
Cllr Mulroy also brought it to the chamber’s attention that a letter received by him from members of the Civic Trust, which asked him to support zoning the garden 100 per cent open space and to also support the buying of the land, compromised him as a town councillor. Cllr Keith Martin said that he also received the letter, which is a form of lobbying, and said that there was nothing “sinister” in the content of the letter.