IN PLACE Signs with details of the new Westport street parking regime look set to be revealed to the public this week. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
A FORMER county councillor has called for the roll-out of the new parking charges in Westport to be deferred until after the busy summer season.
The new parking charges in Westport, which will include on-street parking charges, are expected to be rolled out this week.
Mayo County Council’s outdoor staff have been busy preparing for the new charges, erecting new information signs throughout the town and marking out new designated set-down parking spaces.
However, former Fine Gael county councillor Peter Flynn wants the rollout of the new parking-charges regime to be deferred until the tourism season is over.
“From a tourism and business perspective, we are already heading into an uncertain summer with Brexit still on the horizon and the VAT increases kicking in. Adding another unknown for Westport business just doesn’t make sense right now.
“There is nothing but confusion on how all will operate for residents, business and employees in the town centre, there is no semblance of a plan for The Quay and the process to administer the charges is still not finalised. Focus should be on introducing the most technologically advanced system available for ease of use for the customer,” said Flynn, who is a Fine Gael candidate to run the Westport Electoral Area in the local elections in May.
Bullying the people
A former town councillor as well as a county councillor, Mr Flynn accepted that Westport’s parking needed to addressed, but he argues that the council is going the wrong way about it.
“Bullying the people of Westport into a complicated parking charge system a few weeks before the busiest period is not fair. I suggest getting the summer season out of the way, have the new council elected and then sit down with the various interest groups and work out a practical and sensible solution,” he said.
Almost one year ago, it emerged that West Mayo councillors were told that they would not receive their GMA [General Municipal Allocation] grants until they agreed to the introduction of the parking charges. Councillors use these grants to fund local voluntary groups and initiatives, such as festivals and events, at their discretion.
Current county councillor Christy Hyland, who eventually voted to introduce parking charges said that without the revenue from parking charges, said local organisations would not have been able to avail of much-needed council funding.
“Without the parking charges there would be no GMA fund, and without the fund local organisations which do great work in the community will suffer. The local Tidy Towns committees will not avail of funding, and summer festivals and events which rely on the funding may not be able to keep going.
“I made a decision [to vote for parking charges], and I don’t regret the decision. I was getting phonecalls from organisations saying they can’t plan festivals without funding. I felt standards and footfall in the town would suffer without the parking regulations. I was not going to let the town go down the tubes with no funding,” he said.
Cllr Hyland added that he has noticed that while he is out canvassing, residents have been understanding of the need for the new parking regulations and the idea of freeing up space around the town.