Donegal Deputy Charlie McConalogue has hit out at the Government for blocking Fianna Fáil proposals to revitalise struggling town centres in the North West.
The Fianna Fáil Bill, which was debated in the Dáil on Friday, proposed the establishment of a Town Team in each local authority to implement a town revitalisation plan. Fine Gael and Labour said they would not be supporting it.
It’s part of a wider Fianna Fáil strategy, which sets out a bold new vision on reviving town centres and supporting local businesses.
Deputy McConalogue explained: “The sad reality is that many of our town centres in the North West are under threat. Crippling rents, unsustainable commercial rates and the continued credit crisis are strangling local businesses and forcing many to lay off staff or shut down altogether.
“Meanwhile, high parking charges, large shopping centres on the outskirts, cross-border shopping and the cuts to local services and amenities can often keep people away from the traditional town centres.
“Radical action is needed to revitalise our local towns and encourage people back into the town centre. That’s what the Bill debated in the Dáil last week was about. It seeks to establish a Town Team in each local authority to oversee ambitious revitalisation plans.”
This Town Team will oversee:
– Revamping the Commercial Rates system
– Abolishing upward only rents
– Changing the parking charges structure
– Changing the planning laws to encourage town centre development
– Introducing new cultural initiatives to keep main streets busy
– Greater community engagement on planning strategy in towns
– A new Purple Flag Strategy on anti-social behaviour
– New financial tools for local authorities to invest in urban renewal.
Deputy McConalogue continued, “It’s deeply disappointing that Fine Gael and Labour are not supporting a plan to give our local towns a much needed boost.
“Towns across Donegal and North West region in particular have lost many local services and amenities recently, including local garda stations, bank branches, libraries and local shops. Now, small schools and post offices are also under threat. We need to start supporting our local towns, instead of just undermining them,” Deputy McConalogue said.