LAND ownership issues at Barleycove will have to be investigated before the Council can commit to expanding the car park at the popular Blue Flag beach.
That was the reply of senior official Mac Dara O H-Icí to a motion by Social Democrat (SD) Cllr Ross O’Connell, which called for the existing car park to be doubled in size, by June.
Speaking at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District, Cllr O’Donnell said it is currently ‘not fit for purpose’ and different councillors confirmed they spent over an hour stuck in gridlock on the causeway last summer.
The SD councillor showed a photograph by local man Liam Wilcox of cars parked all along the causeway. It showed motorists trying to go in both directions, but couldn’t because there was nowhere for them to pass.
‘We need real solutions to the problem because it is not going to go away by itself,’ said Cllr O’Connell who, with the assistance of his party colleague, Holly Cairns (TD), did a land search, which showed the Council owns ‘significant acreage’ adjacent to the car park. Calling for swift action, Cllr O’Connell said: ‘July is now only four months away. We don’t want a repeat of last summer’s chaos.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said the Council’s usual response is to say parking is a garda matter. But, he said, the gardaí cannot be there 24/7.
He said it is also a major inconvenience for farmers at a busy time of year and the work of ambulance and fire brigade crews could be hampered by the gridlock.
Meanwhile, in nearby Ballyrisode, Cllr Collins said elderly people are ‘locked into their homes from 1pm until 6pm’ because the narrow cul-de-sac is full of cars.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said: ‘We have a fantastic product here with our beaches, but we need to manage them properly, especially as there is likely to be an influx of people from all parts of Ireland when restrictions are lifted.’
Local Cllr Katie Murphy (FG) asked Council officials to give ‘a definitive answer’ that can be communicated to locals.
Mac Dara O H-Icí said sorting out land title – and taking commonage into consideration – would be the first step,
He added that the Council would have to do a design, and go through a planning process, which would take time, and, finally, would need funding. But there was some good news for Ballyrisode, area engineer Ruth O’Brien said, because the Council plans to widen the road, which will ‘help matters for this year.’