Sunday 8 December 2019

County councillors in row over pay parking in Mallow

Bill Browne

A row has erupted between two local county councillors over the issue of pay parking in Mallow, with one claiming that the other refused to support a motion calling for the system in the town to be brought under County Council control.

Cllr James Kennedy (Lab) placed a motion before last Monday's full council meeting calling for consistency in relation to pay parking structures across all of the authority's municipal districts.

The motion also urged the Council to move to ensure that each district would run and control its own pay parking operation and "would cease, as soon as is practicable, to rely on private operators for the collection of parking fees and the levying of fines." 

Cllr Kennedy was making specific reference to Mallow, which is the only town in County Cork that has a private company monitoring parking regulations, with Council-employed wardens undertaking the duties in the other towns.  

Cllr Kennedy claimed his motion received wide support from his Kanturk/Mallow district colleagues - with the exception of Fine Gael's John Paul O'Shea. 

"It was with some degree of sadness and disbelief that Cllr O'Shea chose not to support my motion at full council," Cllr Kennedy told The Corkman.

"Cllr O'Shea said the issue had already been discussed at local level. However, it was my intention, through the motion, to raise the issue directly with the Council executive, and I felt that the full meeting was the correct forum in which to do that," he added. 

Cllr Kennedy said it was too important an issue not to raise directly with the Council's executive, saying "€1.4 million had left Mallow over the past five years to pay for a private firm to operate our public car parks". 

"The people of Mallow have had enough. Imagine what we could have done in Mallow over the last five years if that money had remained in the town," said Cllr Kennedy. 

"Abolishing a private firm's presence in the town would send a very clear signal that we want to reinvest monies generated in Mallow, for the community in Mallow and the surrounding areas," he added. 

Responding to Cllr Kennedy's comments, Cllr O'Shea pointed out that he agreed that pay parking in Mallow should be brought under control of the Council. 

However, he said Cllr Kennedy's claim that he refused to back his motion in full council was "somewhat disingenuous", pointing out the issue was discussed at a recent Kanturk/Mallow committee meeting following a motion placed by his party colleagues Cllrs Liam Madden and Tony O'Shea. 

"It was agreed at the time that the pay parking regime in Mallow was in fact under review and a decision on whether it would be taken back under control would be made in January when the current contact with APCOA expires," said Cllr O'Shea. 

"To suggest that I declined to back the motion is somewhat disingenuous at best. My point is that there was no need to raise it at full council level as the matter is already under review," he added. 

In response, Cllr Kennedy said that while he appreciated the matter had been raised at local level, he had decided to raise it at full council in order to "bring it directly to the attention of the authority's chief executive".