A number of opportunities exist in Ennis to further develop the town’s retail sector. That is according to Mayor of Ennis Peter Considine who, along with Ennis Chamber and Ennis Town Council, has expressed disappointment that a recent survey of the top 100 towns and cities in Ireland has shown that a significant number of people don’t see Ennis as their primary shopping destination.
Ennis came 61st in the nationwide survey by Retail Excellence Ireland of more than 16,000 citizens and stakeholders. The county capital also featured in the bottom ten of town’s and cities in terms of car parking availability, price and convenience.
In a joint statement issued in response to the survey of the top 100 performing towns and cities, Mayor Considine and chamber president Brian O’Neill said they welcomed the Town & City Management Framework recently launched by Retail Excellence Ireland and its progressive implementation.
The survey represents the first detailed analysis of citizen and stakeholders’ views and finds the majority of those surveyed reported that Ennis has a “unique and positive image”.
They also acknowledged the description of Ennis as a family friendly town as well as the fact that the town’s pubs and restaurants received a high quality rating. Ennis also rated highly in relation to its streetscape and overall maintenance.
However in terms of the survey’s findings on Ennis as a shopping destination and the response of survey participants in relation to the price and accessibility of car parking in the town both organisations voiced their disappointment.
Mayor Considine commented, “I believe that Ennis, as a shopping destination, presently offers members of the public excellent choice with a wide range of shopping outlets. Ennis is a very attractive town and gives a unique shopping experience that differs from the common shopping experience available in the major cities.
“I am mindful that these are challenging financial times for all of us. That said, Ennis Town Council and Ennis Chamber of Commerce and business operators throughout the town, are firmly committed to playing a dual role in ensuring that those who visit, work in and live in Ennis are delivered with a wide range of quality shopping options,” he added.
Mayor Considine said that despite the current difficult economic circumstances that numerous opportunities exist in Ennis to further develop the town’s retail sector.
“The construction of the new Ennis National School has resulted in the availability of a key strategic site in the town. Ennis Town Council is currently working with the site’s owners to develop an overall master plan so that the potential of the site can be realised without delay after Ennis National School vacates to its new location on the Kilrush Road. There is considerable interest in Ennis from retailers and the approach is to provide the property solution to meet retailers’ needs,” he said.
Brian O’Neill, president of Ennis Chamber, noted that both the council and Chamber are continuing to work together on a number of initiatives aimed at developing and promoting Ennis.
“The work being undertaken by the Chamber and council to securing the Purple Flag standard for Ennis will also give a further boost to the night time economy,” he said.
“In this regard, we are very pleased to see that the standard of pubs and restaurants available in the town ranks very highly in the survey,” he added.
“The implementation of the Promote Ennis strategy, which profiles the town to visitors and tourists locally, nationally and internationally, is also resulting in dividends as evidenced by the fact that Ennis’ streetscape features quite prominently in relation to the survey. This is testament to the work undertaken by businesses, the local authority and the Tidy Towns Committee in partnership with the community.
“This partnership approach can also be seen during the Christmas period and on St Patrick’s Day, as well as though the support pledged to annual events such as the Ennis Street Festival, Ennis Book Club Festival, and the Ennis Trad Festival,” Mr O’Neill concluded.
Meanwhile, commenting on the response of survey participants to the price and accessibility of car parking in the town, Mayor Considine said that Ennis Town Council has made significant moves in recent years to further enhance access to the town centre and improve traffic flow.
“There are over 3,100 car parking spaces available in the town of Ennis, comprising 2,300 off street and 800 on street spaces as well as two town centre multi-storey car parks,” he explained.
“There is a tiered arrangement for car park pricing with some well- located car parks offering exceptional value for money with charges of €2.60 for eight-hour parking. Furthermore, the investment by Ennis Town Council in a new coach park at Friar’s Walk provides much improved parking for the coach and bus sector. In addition, the completion of the inner relief road later this month will form a new access into the town and improve accessibility and bring visitors directly to surface and multi-storey car parking.”