Summonses have been issued to Ballinrobe business owners who withheld payments of annual rates to Mayo County Council last year.
A significant number of businesses in the town are refusing to pay rates in a bid to force the council to establish free parking in the town. Their rates have instead been paid into a designated bank account.
The business owners have now received summonses from the council in relation to the outstanding payments.
The issue, which has been ongoing for the last two years, involves businesses from Ballinrobe and Claremorris, who have been in negotiation with the Council over car parking charges in the centre of both towns.
Spokesperson for the Ballinrobe Business Enterprises Organisation (BEO), Rob Murphy, told The Mayo News that the next course of action would be finalised tomorrow (Wednesday).
“A future course of action hasn’t yet been finalised, but we will reach a general agreement on Wednesday. There is a consensus that a serious united stance must be taken, because at the moment we’re not getting any movement,” explained Murphy, adding that a ‘radical rethink’ of the parking strategy in the town was needed.
Commenting on the issue Cllr Michael Burke, a business owner in Ballinrobe, said the current stand-off ‘doesn’t suit traders and doesn’t suit the council’.
“I approached the Director of Services, Seamus Granahan, last week in order to propose a meeting with the traders, but the council has declined to facilitate a meeting until the outstanding rates have been paid,” he explained.
The council has spent a total of €1.27 million on the town’s parking. It would see €270,000 wiped from its income if it were to grant one hour of free parking in the town.
Commenting on Claremorris Chamber of Commerce’s involvement, Chairman Jimmy Flynn said a nominated member of the chamber would sit with two council officials in order to look at a winning tender in an independent report on parking and other issues in the town.
On the previous link-up between Ballinrobe BEO and the Claremorris Chamber, Mr Flynn said the chamber refrained from joining their neighbouring organisation’s ‘strategic’ approach in withholding rates, as it wanted to get back into negotiations with the council.
Flynn said that if an agreement was reached about a new parking strategy in the town, he would be confident that entrepreneurs would inevitably open up vacant shop units.
“It would be good for both the local and national exchequer. The ball is in their (the council’s) court now,” stated Flynn.
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