Mayo County Council has spent at least €200,000 more than it has earned from car parking charges since 2008, shock new figures reveal. The figures, released by Claremorris Chamber of Commerce ahead of crunch talks with the council on paid parking in Claremorris and Ballinrobe, show the local authority is on target to lose at least €40,000 this year alone.
“The county council would sooner throw town centres into an unmarked grave than admit they're losing this money,” said Claremorris Chamber president Jimmy Flynn. “Since 2008, they've spent €163,000 more than they earned from paid parking. This year, a further €42,000 will be lost. That's €205,000 wasted on collection costs in just five years,” he said.
The figures were calculated from an analysis of Mayo County Council's published, adopted budgets for 2008 to 2012.
Traders in the two south Mayo towns have been battling the county council for months for a fair deal on parking. They say giving one hour free parking on week days and free parking on Saturday would be like a magnet in drawing shoppers back to town centre shops. It would also help balance edge-of-town centres, which offer free parking.
In Westport and Swinford the first hour of street parking every day is free, and business leaders in Claremorris and Ballinrobe are baffled as to why there is a different rule for their towns. “The simple truth is the bureaucracy is fiddling while small business is burning,” said Jimmy Flynn. “Mayo County Council say they borrowed €4.5m to buy land and build car parks in Claremorris and Ballinrobe. If that's being paid back over 10 years, it's costing €570,000 a year. So, the real losses from paid parking could be as high as €610,000 a year. Why should our towns have to carry the can for that?”