From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People 1 Sep 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
6, Sep 2004 - 22:40

Car sales slump in West’s garages

Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is crippling car sales in Mayo, according to Castlebar based car salesman Tommy Robinson. The local salesman and Chairperson of the Mayo branch of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry is outraged at the rates charged by the Government on new vehicles. He blames the slow car sales, during the month of July, on the staggering costs. "VRT continues to pose a major burden on the motorist in Mayo. In the past ten years motorists have contributed billions in motor related taxes, far more than fair share," he said. VRT is chargeable on first registration of a motor vehicle in the State but coupled with VAT, Mr Robinson said motorists are being ripped off. "Together VRT and VAT often makes up nearly 70% of the cost of the car."

Could there be an alternative explanation that car sales slumped in July because most of us took off to foreign parts because we can’t afford to holiday here and/or because the weather was so miserable because of the new wet and windy summers that climate change has brought about? (Helped of course by all that greenhouse gases belching from our car exhaust pipes?).

We all heard that the common market would allow us to buy cars at prices similar to those pertaining in other European countries. Apparently the basic raw price of a car in Ireland is cheaper than in many other countries. Nobody could afford to buy a new car at all if our VAT and VRT rates were lumped on top of the basic factory price that’s charged in Europe more generally. Manufacturers have a bit of flexibility it seems.

Looking at the CSO figures for retail businesses it appears that the motor trade is the biggest retail sector of all when VRT is included – 13 times the size of food and drink and likewise for pharmaceuticals – assuming that I am reading the CSO tables correctly. The VAT take is 2 billion euros per annum and the VRT is somewhat greater. You can do a lot with 5 or 6 billion euro. So all in all the motor trade is funding a hell of a lot of schools, hospitals and social welfare payments – not to mention new road building projects. Now that Charlie McCreevy is in charge of the internal market you can be sure that the Irish VRT is here to stay!


Mayo has its wettest day ever

Remember Monday week and the deluge of rain that fell for most of the day? The rainfall amounted to 34.6mm which is the highest fall for one day ever recorded in the area. In July the total rainfall was 65.0mm while in May the recorded rainfall was 36mm. Rainfall and temperature measurements are taken at Ballina Golf Club for the Irish Meteorological Service. The rainfall on Monday week last can be put in context when compared with a measurement of 15.2m on July 19, the highest of that month. The second highest of that month was 11.8 mm on the 9th. In June there was a fall of 26.9mm on the 22 and 7.0mm on the 23, giving a total of 34mm which almost equalled the total fall of 36mm for the month of May.

Slightly linked to the story from the "man from the motor trade" that wet day was the one when we got the tail end of Hurricane Charley from Florida and the Carribean where it wreaked a helluva’ lot of destruction. And did you see what happened in that pretty Cornwall village presumably on the same day? The TV images of all those cars being washed away to sea in the flood that ensued when all that water that had been carried all the way from Cuba to England was dumped out of the sky at one fell swoop? Shades of Pollathomas this time last September. Climate change is coming home to roost I’m afraid - reminding us in an increasingly urgent manner of our addiction to fossil fuels.

On a more local note though it must be said that you can’t really apply the results from one small rain gauge at Ballina Golf Club to the whole of Mayo. The big Mayo met stations at Claremorris/Knock and Belmullet are also available on the web for all to see. The results are quite different to the Ballina Golf Club station. You clicks on your link and you takes your choice. But in reality Mayo’s wettest day is decided by the average of all its rain gauges and met stations not just by the Ballina Golf Club which only has a fraction of the Belmullet rainfall, for example.

Ring road to help resolve Ballinrobe’s traffic jams

Mayo Deputy Michael Ring the Fine Gael Spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs has called on Mayo County Council to immediately resolve the chaotic traffic problems each evening in the town of Ballinrobe. He said he had been contacted by a number of residents and business people from Ballinrobe in relation to the issue. Ballinrobe residents have suffered with continual traffic jams over the summer months, particularly since the council carried out work in the Cornmarket area. There is also traffic chaos at every funeral. "I have been in Ballinrobe several times over the last number of weeks and I have encountered a lot of anger, particularly with the way the traffic is being held up all over the town," said Deputy Ring.

Ring advocates a RING Road? Traffic jams in Ballinrobe J ? I have just picked myself up off the ground from where I spent the last five minutes laughing. Like our esteemed TD from Westport, I too have been in Ballinrobe several times lately and I didn’t feel the anger or notice the ‘traffic’ – well not any more than I have driving through Ballycastle or Ballinchalla or Ballyheane or Ballyvary or Ballindine or Ballyhaunis or Ballycroy or Bellanagare or Balla! Just stop them double parking on those yellow lines or parking on the yellow boxes and the ‘problem’ will be solved (but then the traffic problem hasn't even go to the stage where it's worth buying the paint for painting yellow boxes on Ballinrobe's streets yet!).

So get real folks before you start compulsorily purchasing all those valuable one-off housing sites all around Ballinrobe for a ‘RING-road’. Make no mistake about it that’s not a Freudian slip when the headline speaks about a RING road proposed by the Westport Auctioneer called Ring!

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