Councillor Tereasa McGuire

Councillor's proposal to solve parking charges crux

A LOCAL councillor has put forward a proposal to raise additional funding without having to introduce on-street car parking charges in Westport.

There is widespread local opposition to the charges being proposed by Mayo County Council.

Fine Gael Councillor Tereasa McGuire delivered a detailed statement at a meeting of the West Municipal District (WMD) meeting yesterday (Monday) on how the funding shortfall proposed to be raised through parking charges could be made up in other ways.

She also suggested a rates rebate to recognise the benefits Westport brings to other parts of the county.

Her statement read: “This is a very important time in Westport and indeed in the whole WMD. There is an incorrect perception amongst some in the county that this area is not pulling its weight, not putting its shoulder to the wheel as we are not delivering financial returns through pay and display parking.

In reality, Westport and its reputation brings significant benefits and business to all of Mayo.

Far from pressing to harm Westport through the introduction of pay and display, I suggest consideration should be given to a rates rebate to recognise the benefits we bring to other parts of the county.

The pressure for pay and display parking is one of the reasons I opposed the manager's budget estimates. However, as my two Westport council colleagues voted for the manager's estimate and committed our town to raising the required monies from pay and display parking we are to some extent stuck with the situation where we have to find the money.

This can be done and I have set out one suggestion below. It is in the interest of the whole district that we work on this together as what happens today in Westport will happen in Newport, Mulranny, Achill and Belmullet soon after.”

Councillor McGuire set out the following:

* I propose we increase the cost of parking in car parks to €5 per day, €1 per hour and 50c thereafter.

* In a year there are 365 days. Allow 52 free Sundays, 10 free holidays, 26 free days at Christmas and allow three goodwill days. This leaves 54 peak days in July and August and 220 off peak days.

* With circa 470 parking spaces in the carparks, if we allow 100 for businesses there are 370 available spaces.

* 54 days in high season July and August with full occupancy yielding €99,900 - €100k.

* 220 off peak days with a 50% occupancy, 185 spaces at €5 per day, will yield €203,500 - €203k.

* Allowing permits for 100 business permits at €250 per annum yields €25k.

This €100k + €203k + €25k gives an income of €328k, leaving a shortfall of €27k as compared to the management proposals seeking €355k.

However, my proposals are assuming all users park for the full day at €5. In reality car park usage is far more fluid and much of the parking is 1 or 2 hours, which will raise the required €27k.

This will provide the money required by management. We can then focus on by-laws, particularly the pink and blue zones, that will deliver improvement for Westport and avoid the harm that would result from pushing through pay and display.

Westport is a magnet for Mayo and we should do nothing to decrease its attractiveness.”