Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says the party’s new policy document on keeping Irish towns alive has all the ingredients necessary to restore the importance of the town centre.
Senator Daly said the launch of ‘Streets Ahead’, which is the new Fianna Fáil policy document setting out a fresh vision for the future of Irish towns, would ensure that towns again become the fulcrum of the community.
“Towns and villages from Kenmare to Castleisland face continuing challenges just to survive. The commercial rates system is outdated and favours out of town shopping centres. It has led to an exodus of shoppers away from town centres; where retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete. Placing a surcharge on these out of town centres would rebalance the system.
“One of the huge disadvantages for town centre retailers is the parking costs that customers face; something that out of town shopping centres also have an advantage with. A new parking charge system must be introduced to make it more attractive to shop in town centres.
“Businesses across County Kerry also know all too well how upward only rent reviews are crippling businesses. The Fianna Fáil policy document proposes to abolish upward only rent reviews.
“One of the many other initiatives contained in the policy is the introduction of a nationwide purple flag anti-social behaviour strategy. It has proved to be hugely successful in Ennis, for example. The initiative should be spread to towns in Kerry and throughout the country.
“The closure of a number of high profile retail chains in recent months serves as a stark reminder of how perilous the situation is for even larger businesses.
“New businesses must be encouraged to set-up in town centres and Fianna Fáil has put forward a number of initiatives to make this easier.
“’Streets Ahead’ addresses the problems Irish towns face through a multi-faceted approach. No one measure will revitalise the town centre; only through a joined-up approach that has the backing of the business community, voluntary groups, local councils and the Gardaí will it succeed.”