Town centre retailers can create jobs when supported.
Over-aggressive parking policies killing trade.
ISME, Tuesday 1st July 2014
At today’s meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, discussing town centres, ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, warned that the sense of decay felt in rural towns and villages must be addressed by politicians, the very people who created the problem in the first place. The Association called on the committee members to champion their recommendations on parking, town teams, incentives on vacant properties and town rejuvenation.
Laying the blame at the feet of politicians, who, in the past, were bamboozled by big developers and multinational retailers to allow over-development of out-of-town centres, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding stated, “Town and city councils seem to go out of their way to make town centres difficult and expensive places in which to develop and operate. They have neglected them over the past twenty years and continue to harass the few remaining shoppers with clampers, impose unsustainable charges on retailers and allow vacant shops turn into eyesores”.
“Newly elected local councillors must be educated to the fact that there is a definite correlation between a proactive and supportive local authority in relation to village and town centres and strong business revival, where businesses are encouraged to remain or move to town through a range of schemes and incentives. The long term outcome is a vibrant town and increased revenue all around.”
“Traditionally in town centres there was competition, which helped the community. A much fairer system and much better for the town and the community because there was variety, quality and choice, everyone shopped around. Now due to the lack of foresight by councils and an eagerness to grab the shilling we have decimated our towns. Local neighbourhood centres where all services could be availed of are closing. We have sacrificed communities for perceived convenience.”
ISME called on Government and local councils to;
Encourage the formation of Town Teams to drive town-centre economies.
Impose disincentives to prevent long term vacant units.
Incentivise the occupation and fit-out of vacant properties through rates relief.
Desist from over-aggressive parking policies.
“If town centres are our lifeblood and point of difference, then we must support them, guide them and encourage radical thinking and actions over a sustained period. We do not need, nor will we get back the town centre of the 1950s or 1960s, but what we need is energetic and effective town centres for Ireland in the early 21st century,” Fielding concluded.