DESERTED The new parking regulations which were introduced on Monday morning, April 8, in Westport, saw the South Mall much quieter than normal. Pic: Conor McKeown
A WESTPORT councillor who backs on-street parking charges says the opening up of spaces in the town centres will benefit local businesses and improve traffic congestion.
The new car-parking bylaws for Westport were introduced for the first time yesterday morning (Monday), with motorists now having to pay for on-street car parking and display tickets on their vehicles.
The increased number of vacant on-street parking spaces was obvious, and Cllr Christy Hyland said that this is good news for the town.
“I met a person this morning who said it was the first time in a long time he was able to get parking outside the post office and go in and do his business,” Cllr Hyland told The Mayo News.
“You can see the free spaces along the Mall … When I came into town today I was not doing laps of the town trying to find a space. I was able to find a space and do my business without any trouble. Before this, the streets of Westport were used as a car park.
“We all want progress, but people do not always want change. When the town went from a two-way traffic system to a one-way system, people said the town was finished. Would they go back to a two-way system? No way,” he said.
Close to twenty retailers in Westport have agreed to stock the new scratch and display tickets which motorists will have to display on their cars. The new laws will designate two separate zones, blue and pink, with different rates applying to each.
The Pink Zone is the town core, and parking in this zone is free for the first hour, with a charge of €1 applying to the second hour, for which a pink parking disc is required. A maximum stay of two hours applies at these locations. Anyone anticipating a stay longer than one hour should display a disc.
The Blue Zone will cover the remainder of the town streets and the Quay area, where a charge of 60 cent per hour applies. There is no free parking period at these locations, but also, there is no restriction on length of stay in the blue zone. An all-day rate of €3 applies with a yellow coloured disc in this zone.
Cllr Hyland said many motorists were now using the town’s car parks, and he called for a new car park for the town. He added that any ‘teething’ problems could be addressed by the Council later in the year.
“Like anything new there will be teething problems that will have to be looked at. We now have a plan in place for the betterment of the town, and we can look at what is not working and make changes if changes have to be made in six months time. Everything can be looked at, including introducing meters if the people want it,” he said.
Reaction to the new regime has been mixed, with many businesses refusing to sell the discs. Businesses in the town also report that employees feel targeted and unfairly squeezed by the costly fees, while rate payers are angry that they are being forced to pay yet another ‘stealth tax’.
Fianna Fáil councillor Brendan Mulroy, who opposes the charges, said their introduction marked a difficult day for the town.
“I think it was a very sad day for Westport and everyone who works in the town. It is disappointing that people now have to pay to go to work in Westport. The town was very quiet today, and there is still a lot of confusion out there in the way the charges were brought in. From what I hear while canvassing, people cannot understand why charges were brought into Westport,” he said.