CLARE Fianna Fáil General Election candidate, Rita McInerney, has said that both central and local government must give serious consideration to placing restrictions on out of town shopping centres in an effort to protect our small towns and villages.
Ms McInerney was commenting after a new report, Rejuvenating Ireland’s Small Town Centres: Meeting the Challenge, published by Chartered Surveyors Ireland, called for restrictions on out of town shopping centres, in addition to the full scale roll out of high speed broadband, and the establishment of Towns Partnerships to deliver a united voice on behalf of towns.
“This is a very welcome and timely report, and one which I wholeheartedly support. For far too long, the retail centres of our towns have been decimated by the growth of out of town retail and shopping centres. The effect is clear for all to see – pulling shoppers away from small independent retailers in our towns’ centres to large, retailers on the outskirts of towns.Many towns have been hollowed out by this practice over the past 10 to 15 years, and unless we restrict further openings, I seriously fear for the shops in our towns, and on a broader level, the economic hearts of our towns,” the Doonbeg based business woman said.
“A really interesting aspect of the report was their call for the establishment of Town Partnerships to help fill the void since the last Fine Gael and Labour government dissolved our many Town Councils. Towns have a unique identity and they need to start speaking with a collective voice to keep them vibrant and sustainable. It’s all about protecting jobs in my opinion. Town centre retailers generally face higher costs so any reduction in footfall and sales can directly lead to job losses. I am calling on Clare County Council and our Dáil representatives to get behind this report, and ensure that these recommendations are implemented. Similar recommendations were made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in its document, A Framework for Town Centre Renewal but were never implemented. These latest recommendations cannot be allowed to gather dust on a shelf somewhere, ” Ms McInerney added.