ACCESS and amenities at beaches and outdoor recreational areas throughout West Cork need to be audited by Cork County Council.
That was the suggestion made by Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) who said it would give the Council a clear picture of what services are required and where money needs to be spent.
Cllr Hayes summed up the enormity of the task ahead saying: ‘We are chasing national funding for 90 miles of coastline in West Cork.
‘The audit should have a focus on parking, accessibility, toilet facilities and information signage,’ he suggested at a recent meeting of the West Cork Municipal District.
Councillors have repeatedly complained about desperate parking problems in Barleycove and Ballyrisode on the Mizen peninsula, especially during the summer and during the rolling lockdowns, which has resulted in much higher usage.
Where the Council has land, he said additional parking should be provided, while adjoining lands should be purchased to increase parking spaces.
Every detail, such as the installation of handrails and additional beach wheelchairs, like the prototype at The Warren, should be considered,’ he added.
‘Whether it is Council or Government funding, money needs to be found to improve the fantastic attractions we have on our doorstep.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said chronic parking problems in Ballyrisode have resulted in elderly people being effectively ‘locked into their homes.’
He suggested the use of bollards while Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD) warned that lack of access could result in the loss of life.
He said ambulance crews could need access because the use of the rescue helicopter is not an option in some of these locations.
Cllr O’Connell said the time had come to stop talking about these issues at Council meetings. ‘We will come under fire if we don’t address it now,’ he warned. ‘We have six months before the start of the summer season.’
‘This comes up year after year,’ a clearly frustrated Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) stated. ‘But what is different this year is that people have been locked up in their homes for the last six months. ‘
The gardaí and the Council will have to work together and put a proper plan in place.’
Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) agreed saying: ‘Let’s plan and be prepared for it’ while Cllr Katie Murphy (FG) suggested, ‘We need higher safety standards on our beaches.’
Official Mac Dara O h-Icí said the Council is currently assessing parking and traffic movement, and it has already reopened some of toilet facilities at beaches despite the fact that it is off-season. As for providing additional parking, he said: ‘Where we have land, we will look at that but funding is going to be a big issue.’
He also ruled out Cllr O’Connell’s suggestion that the Council would provide bins at local beaches because, he said, they then represented ‘an invitation for illegal dumping.’