The old Bank of Ireland garden on the North Mall, Westport, is a derelict site benefitting nobody and the decision by the Town Council to have it kept as an open space was a mistake according to a local councillor.
The future of the bank garden became a contentious issue when the town council were preparing their development plan in 2009. Westport Civic Trust was to the fore in lobbying councillors to keep it open. However, the issue had divided the town council chamber, with some proposing that it be zoned for commercial use.
It was finally decided to zone the garden 75 per cent open space and 25 per cent town centre, but at last week’s meeting of Westport Town Council Cllr Ollie Gannon said he believed this decision was now a mistake.
He explained that nothing has happened to the garden since the decision was made and it was lying there ‘doing nothing’.
“We were lobbied long and hard by the Civic Trust in relation to the bank garden to keep it open as open space, and I believe that was a mistake. I personally feel we made the wrong call. I assumed something would happen with the space, but that is not the case. We are looking at a derelict site. That is all it is at the moment,” he said.
When Cllr Gannon said there has been interest in the bank garden, he was asked by the Cathaoirleach Cllr Christy Hyland if he was saying someone wanted to build on it. Cllr Gannon replied that this was not the case but added that nothing was being done with it and said the issue should be revisited.
Cllr Keith Martin said he disagreed completely with Cllr Gannon, while Cllr Martin Keane said he would not be changing his viewpoint and he would not change it for anyone. Cllr Hyland said the matter was for debate on another day but stated that he had his views on the garden and he wouldn’t be a ‘puppet or muppet for anyone’.