Traders in Ballinrobe and Claremorris have united to campaign for fairer car parking charges. Ballinrobe Business Enterprise Organisation (BEO) and Claremorris Chamber of Commerce are campaigning for one hour of free parking on weekdays and free parking on Saturdays.
Speaking after a meeting with County Councillors last week, the two groups said ‘insane parking rules and charges’ are forcing small businesses under.
Jimmy Flynn, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce, explained why the two groups joined efforts, highlighting that this issue is ‘common to both towns’.
“People will not shop in a town centre when they face an Olympic-style sprint with the traffic warden. One hour of free parking, as they have in Westport and Swinford, will give our customers some comfort and our shops a fighting chance,” stated Mr Flynn.
He outlined that one of the main problems the two groups have with the current system is that it is a ‘revenue gathering exercise’.
Richard Cummins of Ballinrobe BEO said the two towns have lost 72 shops to the slump, 43 in Claremorris and 29 in Ballinrobe.
“We will not stand by while Mayo County Council pushes business we built to the edge-of-town centres with free parking all day every day.”
The two business leaders slammed Mayo County Council for having six sets of parking rules and parking charges for the six main towns in the county. “We accept that law and order must be upheld but a fairer regime must be put into place,” said Flynn.
Flynn went on to detail how various multi-national companies succeeded last year in lobbying against the Green Party’s efforts to introduce parking charges in car parks outside towns, where these businesses operate. Flynn questioned why this was successfully lobbied yet small businesses throughout the country are still suffering due to the parking charges issue.
Flynn and Cummins put paid to claims that Ballina, Castlebar and Westport might be different as the town councils face a substantial rate demand from the County Council each year for services provided to urban areas.
“When you follow the money, you find that the three town councils are paying in €2.4 million but getting €1.7 million back for staff. The cheques are crossing in the post,” claimed Mr Flynn.
“We intend to hold their feet to the fire,” said Mr Cummins. “We’re entitled to fair treatment for the €13.7 million of rates we will pay this year,” he added.
Mayo County Council and Claremorris Electoral Area member Cllr Patsy O’Brien said he fully supports a proposal for a reduction in parking charges in Ballinrobe and Claremorris.
“This new approach is much fairer and reasonable, giving the small retailer a fighting chance to survive the slump while still enabling Mayo County Council to raise revenue,” explained Cllr O’Brien.
“In these times, Mayo County Council has to give in to cuts the same as everyone else. The council has recouped a fair share of money invested in the infrastructure for pay and display and on-street parking over the last few years. It is now time to see the people’s point of view”.
The idea of one hour of free parking on weekdays and free parking on Saturdays will be discussed at a meeting on July 5 between County Councillors and officials.
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