Ballyshannon’s Cllr Barry O’Neill (FG) said the scrapping of carparking charges was a momentous day for Ballyshannon.
The proposal to scrap the charges was passed at yesterday’s meeting of the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal. This marked the end of a long-running campaign led by Cllr O’Neill to relieve pressure on the business community by abolishing the charges.
Area Roads Officer Mark Sweeney told councillors that the recent consultation process had closed with no submissions received. Members could therefore proceed with the proposal to scrap the charges under the relevant by-laws.
The MD’s newest member, Cllr Seamus Maguire (Ind) raised concern that income of parking charges amounting to €6,000 would be lost.
However, Cllr Barry O’Neill (FG) pointed out that it cost around €35,000 to have the charges in place, leaving a net annual loss of €29,000.
Cllr O’Neill said the business people of Ballyshannon would very much welcome the move.
“The last seven or eight years, nobody wanted them,” he said. “There is no doubt about it. Everybody in Ballyshannon is going to be very happy about it. Nobody came to me during the consultation process and said: ‘I think you are making a mistake here.’”
The councillor reminded members that this process began with a motion he put down five years ago.
“We voted to abolish parking charges then,” he said. “The business community will welcome that it has finally happened.
“Can the town move forward? Yes, it can. There is so much going on in Ballyshannon from events like the Rory Gallagher Festival and the Folk Festival.
“The infrastructure is also improving with more investment this coming year in streets and footpaths.”
Cllr O’Neill had a particular word of praise for the business community who have been through particularly challenging times since the onset of the recession.
“There are a resilient group of business people who fund their own Christmas light and recently launched the Discover Ballyshannon brochure at the RDS,” he said.
“They were the people obviously asking for the carparking charges to be scrapped.
“I welcome it today. And if these charges had been scrapped ten years ago it would have saved the council €290,000.”
Cathaoirleach of Donegal MD Cllr Micheál Naughton (FF) also welcomed the scrapping of the charges.
“It is something that has been lobbied here for years,” he said. “I am glad that it has gone through.”
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