CLARE County Council has revealed the upgrading of the car park at the Cliffs of Moher may not be completed next year due to a lack of funding, despite claims from a local councillor it is in a “disgraceful” condition.
Tenders have been sought for a revamp of the exhibition at the €31.5 million Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, which the council acknowledges requires upgrading and investment, as it is now six years in existence.
Councillor Bill Slattery has claimed the car park at the Cliffs of Moher is in a “disgraceful” state with “ragworth and weeds growing all over the place”.
Speaking at a recent Ennistymon Electoral Area meeting, Councillor Slattery said he went to the car park at the main tourist attraction in North Clare at the request of a local businessman.
Having examined the car park, Councillor Slattery said he was extremely disappointed with the lack of proper signage, loose gravel, noxious weeds and the overall poor condition of this facility.
The Fine Gael councillor asked why a modern car park wasn’t provided six years ago when the new Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre was first built?
He pointed out that visitors attending other major tourist attractions, such as Kylemore Abbey, have a fully tarmacdamed car park but there isn’t enough money in the council to provide tarmac for the Cliffs of Moher car park, half of which is uncompleted.
Councillor Arkins said he was at the Cliffs of Moher recently, bringing visitors to the centre, and said the car park is in poor condition.
The electoral area chairman said there was a perception that the car park would only be a temporary measure until the park-and-ride development was provided. However, this proposed development is unlikely in the short term.
While the council carried out some work on request, senior executive engineer, Stephen Lahiffe confirmed the council doesn’t have the necessary funding in its maintenance programme to carry out major works at the Cliffs.
Councillor Slattery warned the council could be facing an awkward situation if someone injured themselves on loose gravel and stones at the car park.
Director of services, Ger Dollard acknowledged the Cliffs of Moher has been very restricted in terms of funding being available for any type of infrastructure works at the site, due to the difficult tourism and economic environment.
The issues arising from the Labour Court hearing also have to be addressed, while the financial impact of any improvement in pay and conditions is also a factor to be considered in terms of the overall financial status of the centre.
“Notwithstanding the above, the focus in 2011 and 2012 has been on addressing priority issues at the site, including major improvements to toilet facilities in the centre and improving access ways from the car park and within the site itself.
“Included in the current priority list for infrastructure works is an overall improvement scheme for the car park. This will require major drainage works, resurfacing, landscaping improvements to improve the visual presentation of the car park and screening measures so the car park will blend in more fully with the wider environment. This is a major job of work.
“Progress on any agreed scheme will, however, be subject to funding being available. At present, work is being undertaken on developing an overall scheme for the upgrade of the car park to include all elements required.
“It is unlikely that such scheme would be in place during 2013 but will be progressed as soon as possible from a financial point of view,” he stated.