The continuation of a council-controlled overnight pay-parking site for motorhomes, at a harbour town in Co Cork, has been put in jeopardy. Caravan-park owners claim the local authority’s model is illegal and anti-competitive.
A number of caravan-park owners throughout the country have written to Cork County Council, threatening to take legal action, if it proceeds with plans to formalise the paid-parking facility in Cobh.
They made submissions to the Cobh/Glanmire municipal district body, after it announced plans to introduce bylaws to formalise the control of the designated parking area, at the town’s quayside Five Foot Way.
In recent years, it has become a popular stop-off point for motorhome owners from all over Ireland and Europe because of its panoramic views of Cork harbour.
Seizing on the potential for increased tourism, the municipal council recently designated 30 spaces for motorhome and caravan owners, allowing them to flush wastewater into the town’s sewerage system and park overnight for €10.
However, the municipal authority has now referred the correspondence to the council’s legal department, after councillors expressed fears that the bylaws may need to be re-examined, in the event of a challenge in the courts.
“When I saw the submissions [from caravan owners], they put the fear of God into me,” said Cllr Claire Cullinane.
The councillor, who is one of the driving forces in attracting tourists to the town, said that caravan-park owners were claiming the council had contravened a number of rules and regulations.
“For example, they [caravan-park owners] said we couldn’t use a car park, and that it wasn’t right that we weren’t providing shower facilities and electricity. But the motorhome owners using the site say they have those facilities in their vehicles,” she said.
However, Cllr Cullinane said there was a need for County Hall’s legal department to consider the legal challenges and to address these as “a matter of urgency”.
Cllr Padraig O’Sullivan said he was not in favour of adopting bylaws only to later discover they were illegal.
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