LIMERICK City and County Council has been asked to carry out consultation and research on the reasons behind business closures in the city.
Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler told members of the council’s economic development, enterprise and planning Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on Monday, that this would inform the development of a more effective policy of supporting city centre business.
“We need to go out and develop clear coherent supports for businesses that will help bring them back to life. Rather than suggesting reasons why they are failing we need to engage with them so we can then come up with a policy to support them and rejuvenate the city,” Cllr Butler explained.
Seconding the motion, Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh pointed out that this year’s Riverfest and St Patrick’s Festival had bought huge footfall into the city.
“We need to make sure we are on the right track. We need to see what we can do, but also what they can do,” Cllr Ó Ceallaigh declared.
“You have to wonder why shops are remaining empty when there was huge footfall throughout the year. On St Patrick’s Day some shops in the city wouldn’t even put up a bit of shamrock. You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. We need to encourage them to do more.”
Fianna Fail councillor James Collins said he wanted to see the city centre busy “all day every day”.
“Riverfest and St Patrick’s Day are only two events in the year. We need to provide a vibrant city centre with footfall seven days a week,” he said.
Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin felt more consistency was needed.
“We need people living in the city centre. We have been very active as a council but we need a town centre manager to liaise with businesses, to engage with them on the supports available and also to help with marketing and customer engagement events,” he suggested.
Independent councillor John Loftus said Limerick city centre was the only city centre he had ever seen with “no one living there”.
“The Crescent Shopping Centre is busy every day, that’s the biggest problem,” he claimed.
Cllr Butler thanked councillors for supporting his motion and agreed there were many issues including parking and traffic management that needed to be looked at.
“Lets inform ourselves first. It is our role to support the city centre,” he added.
Mayor Stephen Keary suggested that students at Limerick’s third-level colleges conduct the survey on an annual basis.
“There’s no point waiting till the horse has bolted,” he said.
Eamon Ryan of Limerick Local Enterprise Office raised concerns about the “commercial sensitivities” that would be involved in the collection of such data but agreed that consultation was needed.
“We will sit down with all the parties,” he assured councillors.
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