Councillors have called on the management of Belvedere House and Gardens not to increase admission prices, after it emerged the attraction needs to cut expenditure in order to meet targets this year.
Westmeath County Council accountant Jimmy Dalton said that while Belvedere had been allocated a subsidy of €170,000 for 2010, its committee would have to “battle hard” to ensure they stay under budget this year.
Cost-saving measures including reductions in spending on payroll, garden maintenance, and the running of the garden shop and cafe, are being examined. The committee is also hoping to host concerts on-site in 2010, with a targeted income of €30,000.
“We will also be looking a combination of marketing and increasing admission prices,” said Mr Dalton.
While councillors reacted positively to plans to improve the marketing of the attraction, Cllr Robert Troy said he felt raising admission in order to increase income would be counter-productive.
“I would have reservations about raising admissions. There have been wage reductions across the board and people have less expendable income. I would encourage you to actively market Belvedere as an affordable destination. It could have the opposite effect to increase prices, and people may not renew their membership,” said Cllr Troy.
Cllr Denis Leonard also called for admission prices to be sustained at Belvedere, and suggested a walking pass be introduced for walking groups to use the grounds.
Meanwhile Athlone’s Cllr Gabrielle McFadden suggested increasing marketing in the Athlone area.
“We should look at selling Belvedere in the Athlone area. It is a county-wide estate, but I don’t know if many people in the Athlone area are aware of it and the facilities it offers,” she said.