Castlebar Chamber of Commerce has reacted strongly to criticisms directed at the organisation by local independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne.
Cllr Kilcoyne, speaking at the March monthly meeting of Castlebar Town Council, criticised the Chamber for not making a submission on parking in the town following the publication of bye-laws.
Cllr Kilcoyne, who made one of only two submissions on the issue, hit out at the local Chamber saying he was “disgusted” with the organisation.
However, newly elected Chamber President Oliver Kelleher has called on the independent councillor to “stop the point scoring” adding they should be working together and not engaging in this type of behaviour.
Mr Kelleher told the Mayo Advertiser that parking is an issue which was on the agenda of most meetings the Chamber had with the council executive in recent years and will continue to be.
In fact he said the Chamber has scheduled a special meeting with the Town Council to discuss a carefully drafted 10-point plan for the town which will encourage the two organisations to work together for better enterprise development.
This meeting had been postponed a couple of times by the council and would have taken place before the March meeting, however it is now expected to take place ahead of the April monthly meeting.
There are signs of positive collaborations between the town council and the Chamber such as the town centre regeneration project and the development of the tourist information point and the Chamber council want to ensure they maintain this good working relationship with the local authority.
According to the Chamber several meetings have already taken place with the Town Council where parking was discussed. “The council is well aware of the Chamber’s position in relation to parking through submissions we have made on the issue. We have been successful in securing Christmas parking exemptions for the town over the last couple of years. We have asked the council to take a more serious look at parking as we feel the current arrangement militates against browsing by shoppers and the development of business in the town centre,” one Chamber member pointed out.
“We are not against the idea of paid parking but we are asking them to be more creative to ensure parking is not a disincentive to browsing the town centre,” he added.
Mr Kelleher also reminded Cllr Kilcoyne that the Chamber is run entirely by a volunteer committee with no cost to the tax payer. He added that the Chamber was never informed by the Council that the bye-laws were being put on public display and therefore weren’t in a position to make a submission in that regard.
“We’re all in this together. The council cannot survive financially without rates and equally business cannot survive without the support of the council. If we pay rates we want to know what’s the plan. What are we getting in return?” Mr Kelleher asked.
He contended that the Chamber is being used as a “mouth piece” whenever it suits.
“This shouldn’t be about point scoring but rather about working together and getting issues sorted,” the Chamber President concluded.