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County Council faces rates boycott in Ballinrobe and Claremorris

County Council faces rates boycott in Ballinrobe and Claremorris

Ciara Galvin

Traders in Ballinrobe and Claremorris have united to campaign for fairer car-parking charges. Ballinrobe Business Enterprise Organisation (BEO) and Claremorris Chamber of Commerce met with county councillors recently in a bid to extend the period of free parking that currently exists in both towns.
The groups believe that longer free-parking allowances would encourage people to stay longer in the town and spend more locally, helping businesses to survive.
The two groups – represented by Martin Murphy, Patsy Murphy and Richard Cummins from Ballinrobe BEO and Fintan Gilligan, Niall Heffernan and Jimmy Flynn from the Claremorris Chamber of Commerce – met with five members of the council last week in the hope of coming to an agreement.
However, no agreement was reached, and Ballinrobe BEO is now set to ask its members to refuse to pay rates until the next meeting with the council in September.
Speaking to The Mayo News about the recent meeting, Martin Murphy, member of Ballinrobe BEO said that businesses were merely looking for a longer period of time than the ten-minute allowance currently in place.
“There were a number of compromises, but we couldn’t agree on anything. There was a match-funding proposal for festivals put forward by the council, but that’s not what we wanted. We were there specifically to sort the parking issues,” he said.
Mr Murphy feels the organisation has no alternative but to boycott rates. “The majority of businesses said they will refrain from paying rates until the next meeting. The town is 98 percent rates compliant, but after 18 months trying to resolve it we are left with no other option.”
Jimmy Flynn from the Claremorris Chamber of Commerce explained that a meeting is due to take place this week in order to discuss plans for boycotting rates.
“It will be up to each individual business to decide whether or not they want to participate. At the moment, this is the only avenue left open to us in negotiating with the council,” explained Mr Flynn.
Ballinrobe business owner Richard Cummins told The Mayo News that because Ballinrobe and Claremorris are in the same jurisdiction ‘what happens in one, has to happen in the other’.
Although there are other factors involved in the closing of businesses, Mr Cummins and fellow members of Ballinrobe BEO and their Claremorris counterparts, believe that parking is a large factor in people’s choices about where to shop. “We want to encourage people to shop in the town, and parking is an issue,” he said.