A WESTPORT councillor has accused some candidates of ‘spreading false information’ by claiming that revenue raised by car-parking charges in Westport will not return to the town.
Independent councillor Christy Hyland was speaking at last week’s monthly meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District where he criticised candidates who claim that money generated from Westport parking charges will not be invested in the area.
“There are candidates out there at the moment going around saying that the fund which is taken from carparking is going into Castlebar and not coming back,” he told the meeting.
“I know that if I am re-elected I will be bringing that money back. The money has to go to Castlebar because the town council is gone but I will be going over with the other councillors and we will be bringing the money back.
“I don’t like people going around giving false information. I want this put to bed that the money from the parking charges is not coming back. The money will be coming back,” he said.
Former councillor and current Fine Gael candidate Peter Flynn has recently called for all money raised from parking in the town to be ‘ringfenced and stay locally’.
Speaking to The Mayo News following the meeting, Cllr Hyland said he negotiated the terms of the car-parking charges, and one of the conditions is that all the money raised will be coming back to the Westport area.
“When I negotiated with the senior executives of Mayo County Council I got assurance that money raised from parking charges will be brought back into this area. If the agreement I negotiated is breached then all bets are off. The new councillors will have the power to suspend the parking charges, and if there is a breach, I will be the first to propose it,” he said.
Cllr Hyland said that since the abolition of Westport Town Council, Westport has been ‘starved’ of funding. He feels the parking charges will provide a much-needed funding injection for the area.
Commenting on the newly introduced parking charges, he said they were ‘by and large’ working well, though he admitted that some amendments may have to be made to the bylaws.
“There are areas which will have to be looked at. If amendments have to be made to address concerns from rate payers, workers in the town and residents and businesses at The Quay, they will be made,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor Teresa McGuire also felt the parking was working well, but proposed at the meeting that favourable rates be made available for workers in Westport.
“Workers who have paid their full amount should get a three-month grace period when they go to renew next year. They are the ones who seem to suffer the most. I would ask that rate payers would also get a free parking ticket. It is the rate payers who are footing the bills all of the time and I feel we should in some way acknowledge that in a fiscal sense,” she said.
The councillors were informed that the one-year parking permits for High Street car park have sold out but permits were still available for Mill Street and James Street car parks and for in the blue zone. These two car parks are, however, more expensive than the High Street car park.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy felt he had been ‘led up the garden path’, as he had been told that one-hour free parking was not possible in the past, but it is now. However, Director of Services, Catherine McConnell explained that the previous bylaws were not legally enforceable but the new bylaws are. She added the council will be happy to look at putting up additional signage advertising free one-hour parking.
With the on-street parking charges in for over a month, we gauge the mood among the business community to the new regime.