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Castlebar councillors to pay for Christmas shoppers’ parking


Anton McNulty

Shoppers in Castlebar will get free car parking over the two weeks running up to Christmas after councillors agreed to use their General Municipal Allocation money to pay for any loss occurred.
The free parking is expected to come into effect on December 8 and last until Christmas Day, with all of the council-owned car parks in the county town to be made available to the public. The proposal to provide free parking was made by Fine Gael councillor Ger Deere and unanimously supported by all his council colleagues.
“Morale is very low in the town,” the Fine Gael councillor told last week’s meeting of the Castlebar Municipal District. “We used to do it [free parking] in the past and we must do it again as a gesture to businesses who are going through a horrific time.”
Mayo Council Council’s income from parking charges was significantly impacted during the current year, but Iarla Moran, the Head of the Castlebar Municipal District, agreed to introduce free parking if it was paid for with the councillors’ GMA monies. The councillors had agreed earlier in the year to set aside €13,500 in GMA funds for a Christmas event, but as none can go ahead this year, the money will instead go towards promoting the free parking this Christmas.
During the meeting, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne called on other council-owned car parks in the town to be opened up for shoppers, especially at the weekends, while Cllr Cyril Burke said it was important that as many shoppers as possible are able to come into Castlebar before Christmas.
While stating she fully supported free parking for Christmas, Cllr Donna Sheridan asked how other districts paid for parking, saying she felt that the GMA funding would be better going towards clubs and businesses.
Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District, Cllr Blackie Gavin welcomed the decision to allow for free parking this Christmas and suggested that the old Castlebar barracks should be also be used for parking. He added that the most important message to the public was to shop local.
However, Cllr Al McDonnell said that while free car-parking is a help to businesses he felt that online shopping was a great worry for them this Christmas.
“I was in a rural area [outside Castlebar] for about ten minutes and two vans passed, one was Fastway and another one came a few minutes later and that was DHL.They weren’t delivering letters, they were delivering items bought online and there’s a strong possibility they weren’t bought in Castlebar or Ireland. Therein lie the problems the business people face,” he said.