Tuesday’s Drogheda Council budget meeting ended with the budget of just €20,000 (reduced from €60,000 last year) being voted down by a vote of 5 for and 5 against leaving the Mayor with the casting vote.
Sinn Féin Councillors Joanna Byrne, Kenneth Flood and David Saurin gave a litany of reasons as to why they could not support the reduced budget.
Cllr Joanna Byrne said “The Ardee and Dundalk council meetings also seen their reduced budgets being voted down. But the difference there was that there was no talk of introducing or increasing pay parking charges. However, at the
Drogheda meeting it turned into a discussion, driven by the Chief Executive, to try and over turn our recent democratically passed motion to decrease Drogheda’s pay parking charges to €1 per hour, (except in the area around the hospital).”
An exasperated Byrne said “This is before we have even seen the decrease take place and see how it affects parking in Drogheda. The pay parking charges have never been on the agenda at a Municipal District Budget Meeting before.”
Cllr David Saurin said ” We have asked many times previously, as have other councillors at the parking meetings, if pay parking was to be increased, is it possible to ring fence it for Drogheda? The answer was always no. Now suddenly we are told and expected to believe that if we vote to increase the charge back to €1.20 we can ring fence it, but only at this specific meeting. No Councillor had ever heard that before. It just beggars belief.”
Cllr Kenneth Flood said “During last year’s budget discussions we were promised specific measures for various parts of Drogheda, none of which has materialised. We were asked by council officials to make submissions to the
budget process for consideration. The Sinn Féin group of Councillors made a varied and detailed submission with initiatives that we believe could save the Council substantial amounts of money. We did not receive a response to our submission.”
Cllr Flood said “We have not received answers to our queries, such as how much does the Council pay it’s PR Company and how much does it pay consultants to write policy documents etc. or even where this money appears on the budget. The Council has removed pay parking spaces on the North Strand without consultation, consideration or notice. We are excluded from the process. We cannot be asked to pass any budget we are excluded from. We cannot increase parking charges when no one else is being asked to.”
Cllr Flood said “We have stuck to our principles and kept our word to the residents of Drogheda. We are not here to rubber stamp budgets, we are here to represent the people of Drogheda and ensure there is transparency, accountability and value for public money.”