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On-street parking charges ‘will destroy the town’


CONDUCTED SURVEY Westport newsagent and auctioneer Don McGreevy.

Edwin McGreal

If on-street pay and display parking charges come into Westport, it will turn out like the electronic voting farce, according to a well-known town centre retailer.
“The council will spend a fortune bringing it in and it will be gone again in two years at huge cost, just like electronic voting,” Don McGreevy told The Mayo News.
Mr McGreevy has run McGreevy’s newsagents and toy store on the corner of Bridge Street and the South Mall for many decades and he feels on-street parking charges ‘will destroy the town’.
“I feel very strongly that the people of Westport and the ratepayers of Westport should have a major say in whether this goes ahead or not.
“There is an alternative option available to the council. They feel it is this or nothing. They are not amenable to changes to what they have proposed,” he argued.
Mr McGreevy said he carried out his own survey of on-street parking on both the North and South Malls, The Fairgreen, Castlebar Street and Westport Library on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.
From his local knowledge of cars that park in the area, he said on Monday there were 26 cars parked in these five locations which were belonging to business owners or their staff. They were going to be parked there all day.
On Tuesday, that figure was 32 and on Wednesday it was 37. Those figures do not include residents of those areas. Many of these areas are governed by one-hour parking limits but, McGreevy argues, inadequate bylaws which are incapable of successfully bringing prosecutions through the courts, mean people ignore the parking limit.
He said the consequence is that during the day cars cannot get parking in these areas as so many spaces are taken up with business owners and their staff.
“I’m the worst culprit. We might be taking up nine spaces between employees cars and vans for the business,” he says.
He says that while the council propose pay and display, on-street charges will create better traffic flow, this can be achieved by simply enforcing a one hour free parking limit.
“There absolutely is a need for change. There should be one hour’s free parking, no pay and display and proper enforcement of the one hour limit,” he said.
He argues that if businesspeople and their staff had access to parking somewhere like the vacant council-owned Convent of Mercy site for, what he suggests, would be a ‘fair rate’ of €2 per week, there would be a much better flow of traffic downtown if the one hour limit was adhered too, rather than bringing in parking charges.
“We’re the Times Square of Westport. We’d see people going around the Mall three or four times trying to get parking for a Mass or a Funeral. Right now elderly people cannot get access to the Mall to get to Mass. If you’ve to pay 50c or whatever an hour to park to go into Mass, there will be no one in the church with Fr Charlie (McDonnell).”
Mr McGreevy said he plans to make a detailed submission to the council. He said there are some positive suggestions and there are other problems that need addressing.
“The key thing that needs to happen here is the council need to sit down and talk to people.
“The people who did up this plan are not in the town for 40 or 50 hours every week. Pay and display would ruin the whole ambiance of Westport. For four months we’ve peak tourism season and then for the rest of the year the streets will be empty and there will be a lot of job losses. This will turn us into another Charlestown or Swinford or Kiltimagh,” he said.

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