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Cars parked on footpaths at popular beauty spot restricting access

THE growing popularity of Ballybeg Woods during Covid-19 restrictions has seen motorists park on footpaths, blocking access to those using wheelchairs or pushing buggies, a meeting of the local authority has heard.
Mayor of Ennis Councillor Paul Murphy urged the council to install signage at the natural amenity and carry out other improvements in a bid to tackle the problem.
Speaking at a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, Councillor Murphy stated that during Covid-19 times the general public are maximising all of our public spaces and amenities.
The councillor requested that creeping ivy and overgrowth in the public car park be tidied up in the short term “in order to maximise the space available for parking”.
In addition to this he said that advisory signage should be installed at the Ballybeg Road entrance, requesting patrons to use the carpark to alleviate the problem of cars being parked on footpaths in this area.
Repair of damage to a picnic bench in the centre of the wood is also needed, alongside a widening of the entrance at Ballybeg Road to “in order to facilitate wheelchairs and children’s buggies.”
The councillor said that the woods are a “fantastic amenity” providing a natural environment surrounded by forestry, however as more people use it parking on footpaths has become a problem. He said many motorists may not even be aware a car park is available, suggesting the sign could assist in directing people there.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy, who lives in the area, said she has seen first hand cars being parked on footpaths resulting in young families with buggies being denied access.
Seconding the motion, she said that the amenity if often so busy people are parked all along the road with the car park full. Councillor Pat Daly also voiced his support saying, “On a daily basis it is very, very busy. In the future I think we should consider extending the car park to stop parking on the footpaths.”
Eamon O Dea, Senior Engineer, replying to the motion stated, “The levels of weekend activity at Ballybeg Woods has significantly increased with the 5km exercise distance restriction under Covid-19 level 5 guidelines.
“A response was given in the November meeting in regard to the Ballybeg Woods Amenity area, and the Ennis MD will arrange the works including the repair of the picnic tables. In regard to the number of vehicles parking adjacent to the entrance, the Ballybeg Woods can be accessed by use of the walkway – cycleway provided on the Kilrush Road from Ennis or alternately from the Rocky Road.
At the November meeting he confirmed that the Road Design Section has a section of the Ballybeg Road in a list of works from the Ennis Municipal District. It is intended to make an application under Active Travel Funding for these sections of the Ballybeg Road. While the construction of the footpath from the Water Tower in the direction of the Kildysart Road is in the Ennis Municipal District Programme of Works.

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