Works to upgrade the Limerick Greenway are due to be completed by the end of next month
MARKET forces should dictate how bikes are provided for hire to the public along the Limerick Greenway, according to Independent councillor Jerome Scanlon.
And he intends to question why Limerick City and County Council is providing a loan of €300,000 to a Dublin-based bike-hire company instead of allowing local operators to scale up as demand increases.
“Any bike hire business along the greenway should be allowed to grow organically based on demand as it arises,” he said.
His comments come in advance of a full meeting of the council this Monday where he intends to query a motion to facilitate the loan, and to provide for a possible further loan of €100,000, for EI Travel Group/Lazy Bike Tours.
In its report to councillors about the loan, the council says that the upgrade of the 40km greenway from Rathkeale to the Kerry boundary is nearing completion and is due to open on July 1.
But, it goes on, it had identified the need for an “operator of scale to specialise in bike hire with full shuttle bus service”.
According to Cllr Scanlon, the council sought expressions of interest for such an operator earlier this year with a deadline of March 23.
A number of submissions were made, including locally based outfits, but nobody was selected.
A second round of expressions of interest began earlier this month with a closing date of May 13.
By the following day, Cllr Scanlon claims, the Dublin-based company was selected. “How can we do an expression of interest overnight?” he demanded. “I have concerns about that.”
“The greenway is the best thing to happen in this locality from the point of tourism,” the West Limerick councillor stated.
One of the big advantages of the greenway, he argued, was that it would boost local enterprises and local tourism services. But now he is concerned that , as a result of the council's approach, local operators will be displaced or denied their chance to provide a service and a monopoly created.
“The very least, I would expect is to have dialogue and consultation with the people who were there on day one,” he said.
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