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Castlebar divisions emerge

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CENTRAL ISSUE Parking chages in the centre of Castlebar have become a bone of contention among local business groups. 

Concerns expressed about lack of unity from business groups

Edwin McGreal

A split among business groups in Castlebar emerged this week.
The President of Castlebar Chamber of Commerce was critical of Mayo County Council’s deal with the Town Traders group for free-parking in the town centre at Christmas.
Mr Wilson Bird criticised the council for taking a representation from the Town Traders group, whom he said operate independently from the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Bird was speaking during a presentation to the council on the Chamber’s plans for a Christmas festival next winter.
He told the councillors that such a festival would bring increased parking revenue to the council and that Castlebar has considerably cheaper parking rates than Galway.
However, Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, said that parking charges were seen as a negative by the Town Traders, and not a positive as Mr Bird suggested. The Town Traders successfully canvassed the council for free parking last Christmas and in previous years.
Mr Bird criticised the council for ‘accepting two different voices on this’ - the Chamber and the Town Traders, saying ‘we need to think collectively and not as splinter groups’.
This led Cllr Kilcoyne to ask ‘who is representing town businesses’, adding ‘it is not up to us to say who should make representations, it is up to ye (the Chamber) to sort that out’.
Mr Bird replied that ‘if the Chamber are pro-parking (charges and pro commercial) rates, why would you (the council) deal with anyone else’?
“We will work with everyone. We’ve eight people (councillors) around this table and we have different views on a lot of things but we work together. I would expect any organisation in the town to be the same,” said Cllr Kilcoyne.
Mr Bird said ‘I accept that’.
“If you can bring all organisations together, we will work with you,” added Cllr Kilcoyne.
When contacted by The Mayo News last night, Kathryn Brennan, one member of the Town Traders group, said there was a need for a collective approach.
“At the end of the day we are all working towards the same goal - the betterment of the town of Castlebar.
“Free parking is something we’ve requested and obtained for the last three years and all the town centre businesses agree it has enhanced business for them in the run-up to Christmas and we are grateful to the Council for facilitating it. It is not free parking for the day, just for the morning.
“Castlebar needs everyone working together. It would be wonderful if all groups in the town were under the one umbrella for the betterment of the town. We want to move forward with positivity,” she said. 

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