Mayo County Council has spent at least €200,000 more than it has earned from car parking charges since 2008, shocking new figures reveal. The figures, released by Claremorris Chamber of Commerce ahead of crunch talks with the Council on paid parking in Claremorris and Ballinrobe, show the local authority is on target to lose at least €40,000 this year alone.
Speaking about the ongoing parking issue, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Flynn said “The County Council would sooner throw town centres into an unmarked grave than admit they’re losing this money.
“Since 2008, they’ve spent €163,000 more than they earned from paid parking. This year, a further €42,000 will be lost. That’s €205,000 wasted on collection costs in just five years,” explained Jimmy.
The figures were calculated from an analysis of Mayo County Council’s published, adopted budgets for 2008 to 2012.
Traders in the two south Mayo towns have been battling the County Council for months for a fair deal on parking with individual businesses being advised to refrain from paying rates until an agreement is reached.
Ballinrobe Business Enterprise Organisation and the Claremorris Chamber say giving one-hour free parking on weekdays and free parking on Saturdays would be a ‘magnet’, drawing shoppers back to town-centre shops. It would also help level the playing field with edge-of-town shopping centres, which offer free parking.
In Westport and Swinford, the first hour of street parking every day is free, and business leaders in Claremorris and Ballinrobe are baffled as to why there is a different rule for their towns. “We want the Council to see a bit of sense. You can’t have six different towns with six different parking rules. The simple truth is the bureaucracy is fiddling while small businesses are burning,” added Flynn.
“Mayo County Council say they borrowed €4.5 million to buy land and build car parks in Claremorris and Ballinrobe. If that’s being paid back over ten years, it’s costing €570,000 a year. So, the real losses from paid parking could be as high as €610,000 a year. Why should our towns have to carry the can for that?”
Leaders from the two business organisations will meet the Council tomorrow (Wednesday), in an effort to settle the issue. However, they have warned that they will not hesitate to escalate their action if a fair deal isn’t forthcoming.
“We’ve left it up to each individual business in relation to the boycotting of rates. I’ve no inkling in what the other side are thinking. We just need to get into negotiations,” concluded Flynn.
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