Pic: Ciara Moynihan
THERE will be some early Christmas cheer for shoppers in Westport after local councillors agreed to make parking free up to 2pm in the town’s main car parks during the festive period.
The Westport councillors followed in the footsteps of their counterparts in Castlebar, who earlier this week agreed to provide free parking in their town from December 8. However, the Westport councillors will start a week earlier with free parking to come into affect from today, December 1.
Fianna Fáil councillor Brendan Mulroy made the proposal to introduce free parking in the town for Christmas and it was seconded by Cllr John O’Malley.
While not objecting to the proposal, Cllr Christy Hyland noted that there was already one-hour free parking in the town, which he said was a unique selling point for Westport. He also feared that free parking will result in some people parking all day in town and taking the bus to Galway to do their shopping there.
As a compromise, Cllr Mulroy said that for Christmas he would allow free parking in the council car parks in the morning up until 2pm while on-street charges will remain as they are.
Cllr Peter Flynn said businesses were going through a difficult time and he supported free car parking if it encouraged people to come into the town to shop.
Director of Services, Catherine McConnell, was accused of not having much Christmas spirit when she pointed out that Castlebar councillors allocated €13,500 of their GMA fund to pay for free parking.
“There is nothing free in this world, and someone has to pick up the cost,” she said.
“There is not too much Christmas spirit in this Chamber,” replied Cllr Mulroy, who suggested they sit down to watch the Grinch.
After more toing and froing between Cllr Mulroy and Cllr Hyland about the rights and wrongs of parking charges in Westport, Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara interjected, telling the Cathaoirleach Seán Carey to ‘move on’.
“Never mind Westport car parking, come on, let’s move on,” he said, which Cllr Carey promptly did.