A BUSINESS association in Beara has upped the ante in its campaign to oppose a controversial traffic plan for the town, and is requesting ‘meaningful engagement’ from Cork County Council.
Finbarr Harrington, chairman of the newly-formed Concerned Businesses Association Castletownbere (CBAC), said: ‘We are sending out a clear message that there is a group of residents and retailers who are concerned about the plan because it will bypass the town, illogically reverse the flow of traffic, and eliminate valuable parking spaces.’
Mr Harrington said that as part of its campaign, it is this week placing a full page ad in this paper. ‘We decided to place the full-page advert – naming all the retailers and residents who believe they will be affected by this plan – so that people will be in no doubt about the seriousness of our concerns and our refusal to accept anything that could undermine the town’s viability.’
The group has already had individual meetings with Council reps and they met all eight public reps at a West Cork Municipal District Meeting in Dunmanway in November.
Mr Harrington told The Southern Star: ‘There may be a perception that this group is against progress, but nothing could be further from the truth. We want progress, we want investment in our town, but it has to be a plan that is good for everybody.
‘It has to be open and transparent and one that benefits, not just the town, but the wider community because we are living on a peninsula that is located 100 miles from the city.’
The CBAC advert says it has four main concerns: the ‘destruction’ of the main square, the loss of parking, the change to traffic flow, and the construction of a ‘rain garden’ recreational area at the square.
It further states that ‘no meaningful consultation’ took place with retailers or residents and it now wants to find ‘an agreed solution’.
Mr Harrington commented on the town’s good business structure saying: ‘You can buy anything you need in Castletownbere, but if we don’t support our business these shops will close and the services will cease.
‘The business community is simply saying that because of the design of this plan, a lot of trade will be lost in the town centre, and that it would not only result in a loss of revenue, it could also threaten their livelihoods and local jobs.’
Mr Harrington confirmed that the organisation met with a senior Council official on December 4th and that the meeting was ‘very positive.’
But he warned: ‘Unless our concerns are properly addressed, our campaign will become more outspoken in its opposition to the plan. But if the Council addresses our four main concerns in a meaningful way, we will support this plan.’
Cian Murphy, chairman of the Castletownbere Development Association, confirmed to The Southern Star that it too had meetings with elected representatives and officials and found them ‘responsive to the issues we raised.’
He also said: ‘We are open to engage with any other community organisation because we believe it would be better to speak with a united voice. ‘We are willing to meet with the Concerned Businesses Association Castletownbere to discuss this issue in more depth.’