The raising of a loan of €2.5 million for the purchase of 40 acres of land in the Westport House estate by Mayo County Council, along with some other land the council is looking at buying in the county, was passed without any formal objections at the council's February meeting on Monday.
The council's chief executive, Peter Hynes outlined the plan to the councillors saying that the Hughes family who were proposing to buy the historic house, were willing to invest up to €50 million into the estate over the next five years and hope to create an extra 200 jobs.
He also told the meeting that getting 40 acres of land in Westport at any time was very difficult and it will give the conucil a say in how the town in developed in years to come.
While no councillor put a formal objection against the deal, by proposing a counter motion, a number of councillors from north Mayo did raise questions as to how this loan was being sought, when they were told there was no money for other projects. Cllr Seamus Weir (Ind ), voiced his concern over the fact that this loan would cost €105,000 a year in repayments by the council over 30 years, which was adding to the €5.5 million debt in which the council already finds itself in at the moment.
Cllr Michael Loftus (FF ), said he was delighted for the Hughes family and for Westport, but he feared that the cost of repaying the loans would take from what the other municipal districts would have to spend on projects of their own. Cllr Gerry Ginty (Ind ) told the meeting that the people in Ballina and north Mayo are feeling neglected by the council and this could add to that ill feeling among people in the area.
The Westport based councillors at the meeting, gave their full backing to raising of the loan, with Cllr Christy Hyland (Ind ) saying that if the deal had not been achieved and the future of the house had gone in another direction it would have been serious trouble for the town and that the news was a "fantastic result for Westport."
Cllr Brendan Mulroy (FF ) was full of praise for all involved in the deal and he thanked Minister of State, Michael Ring for his hands on involvement in the process.