THE pedestrianisation of Catherine Street from Glentworth Street to Thomas Street was up for discussion at City Hall last week.
Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin submitted a motion to last Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting calling for the traffic to be banned from Catherine Street in the heart of the city centre.
He told council members that businesses in Thomas Street have seen footfall increase with the partial pedestrianisation and reduced traffic volumes.
“Every city now offers shoppers and visitors a central core urban space that allows people and children to walk about freely without looking out for cars or buses as they move about.
“In recent years Catherine Street has seen new businesses establish such as the Commercial Bar or relocate as in the case of Canteen. Existing service businesses including Gleesons and Flannerys have refurbished or expanded their facilities.
“As local councillors we must influence and shape the future development of our city centre,” he declared.
The City West representative also took the view that as a new transport plan is prepared for Limerick, the Council should not be dictated to by national agencies who base route decisions on traffic volumes rather than what’s best for encouraging greater footfall into the city.
He also believes that Limerick businesses and local retailers cannot wait for the redevelopment of the former Dunnes Stores or Opera site which “maybe three to five years away”.
“Business owners are telling me that the Council must invest and focus more effort towards making our city a pleasant visitor experience. Retail which is a major employer is under serious threat and the Council must fast forward plans to pedestrianise streets in order to facilitate and attract more footfall that can help to support businesses.
“We now have a great opportunity to continue the revitalisation of the city centre through upgrading the public realm in terms of footpaths, lighting etc. on Catherine Street and place electronic barriers that can prevent vehicular access at certain times or days.
“With funding in place to significantly upgrade O’Connell Street there is no reason why we cannot advance other plans that will contribute towards improving our city centre,” Cllr Leddin commented.
Fine Gael councillor Elenora Hogan commended the Labour politician for his motion and took the view that it should be tested on a “small trial”.
Independent councillor John Loftus also liked the idea but raised concerns about how it would affect traffic in the city.
“I support this but we would need to seriously look at how we would work it,” Cllr Loftus said.