A week is a long time in parking and politics

Last week the elected members of the West Mayo Municipal District thought they had secured a victory in their battle against on street parking charges in the towns around the district, when all of the councillors backed a proposal that on street parking charges would be "taken off the agenda". However on Monday morning, when the Municipal District met to discuss their discretionary budget for the coming year the item was very much back on the agenda.

Both Cllr Rose Conway Walsh and Cllr Brendan Mulroy stated that they feared the members were going to be "beaten down" on the issue when it came to the discretionary budget for the coming year. The councillors had rejected the proposed discretionary budget allocation at €390,000 for the district earlier in the meeting. Cllr Mulroy sought a commitment from the director of services, Tom Gilligan, that the parking charges would not form part of an further negotiations in relation to the rejected budget, saying: "It can't become part of any negotiations, even though I've a funny feeling it will. I would have no reason to negotiate if that is going to be part of the negotiations and my fear is that we're going to be beat down with that. In all fairness, you've a job to do. When we first started negotiating a budget the first thing was on street parking charges. We can see that's coming from the top down. Can you give me a commitment that it won't form any part of a negotiation?" To which Mr Gilligan responded" "No I can't, I hear what you're saying and I respect totally what you're saying in relation to parking charges, but I can't give any commitments at this moment in time."

In south Mayo there is also a battle raging over the on street parking charges. Claremorris Chamber acting president, Jimmy Flynn emailed a letter to the elected members in the Claremorris Municipal District and the press this week, saying: "First, Claremorris Chamber did not ask for, and does not want a free-for-all, on street parking. Just what Westport has: one hour free on the street. Westport proves you can run a profitable scheme without strangling a town. Did you know paid parking in Westport made a profit of €247,000 over the last two years? While in the town of Claremorris, it made less than €45,000 a year - or €1.05 per space, per week." He added: "Let's be clear what's really going on here. Áras an Chontae don't like that your colleagues in west Mayo agreed unanimously to keep their first hour free parking. And they're threatening to rain down fire and brimstone on Claremorris and Ballinrobe, just like they're threatening in west Mayo. The message from officialdom couldn't be clearer: step out of line and there will be big trouble. I urge you not to be deflected from exercising your democratic right and reserved powers. On behalf of the 6,000 people who asked for one hour free, who voted for you, give them your vote in return."

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