KILRUSH Chamber president Mark Reidy would not comment this week on reports that a number of small businesses in
Kilrush will close in the coming weeks as a result of the recession.
He did acknowledge that some businesses are finding it difficult to remain afloat in the town, yet he maintained that the introduction of free parking for two hours in the run-up to Christmas aided retailers in the town centre.
“There’s no doubt about it, there are businesses struggling,” the Chamber president said, although he would not expand further when it was suggested that some outlets were on the point of closure.
With Tesco and Aldi, combined, providing up to 80 jobs and 400 parking spaces free of charge on the Ennis Road, town centre business people felt that they were at a disadvantage, in that their customers had to pay for on street parking, except at Place de Plouzané and at the old fire station on the Back Road.
However, Kilrush Town Council introduced free two-hour town-centre parking on the three Saturdays before Christmas and from Monday, December 21 until Christmas Eve.
“I think that the majority of the retailers and business people felt that it was beneficial and certainly the shoppers themselves felt it was beneficial,” Mr Reidy said of the temporary change to Kilrush parking bylaws.
“It takes the pressure off having to look for a ticket in the miserable weather conditions that we’re having. It was never about the euro. I think it was about the convenience or inconvenience depending on what side of the fence you’re on,” he added.
On a broader note, Mr Reidy believes that most businesses in Kilrush had a decent Christmas.
“I would imagine that business is holding its own. It’s not quite up there at the peak of 2006/2007 but it seems to have been a busy enough Christmas,” he stated.
However, he suggested that although the town was fairly quiet on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, that was normal.
“It’s the principal town of West Clare. It’s not a major urban area and it’s family orientated. I think come lunchtime on Christmas Eve, it tends to quieten down. Even from my own experience of being in the pub business, that seems to be the case,” Mr Reidy explained.
Meanwhile, petrol retailers throughout West Clare could be hit if Tesco is granted permission to develop a four-island petrol station in Kilrush.
Tesco in Kilrush have six months to supply further information to the planning department at Kilrush Town Council with regard to their application.
Despite being refused permission by An Bord Pleanála last May to develop a four-island petrol station, Tesco again applied to Kilrush Town Council to open a similar-sized petrol station in the town.
Kilrush Town Council initially granted planning permission in October 2008 for the proposed development, subject to 13 conditions, before An Bórd Pleanála overturned the decision to give planning permission following an appeal.
The appeal was made by the Irish Petrol Retailers’ Association, on behalf of several petrol station owners in West Clare, last June.