Sligo Town Needs New Retail Plan and Fast: Gaffney
Unemployment levels are down by over 25% in Sligo, consumer sentiment is up, new jobs are being announced here yet our town is continually getting worse. Why?
It is very disappointing to see yet another local business in Sligo announce that it is to close its doors to the public.
But I must ask myself, where is the management of our local government on this particular issue? Where is the leadership needed to turn this around from those with the power to do so? Hmm?
It is clear that Sligo town needs a new plan in place, and quickly, in order to identify what’s going wrong of late and to identify what can be done to rectify it going forward.
Unemployment levels are down by over 25% in Sligo, consumer sentiment is up, new jobs are being announced here yet our town is continually getting worse. Why? It does not make sense and it is clear there is something wrong.
Whilst I agree that we have too many retail units for our population and that online is playing a major role. However, I can’t understand how Sligo town largely survived the darkest economic days in our history over the past decade. Yet since 2016 Sligo has been getting progressively worse as public spending has increased. I look at Westport, Letterkenny and Carrick all taking off and I get very angry. Who is fighting for Sligo?
Our town centre is deteriorating before our eyes at the minute and no action is forthcoming from any of our local authorities who have the power to make changes. The continual delays to the ‘O Connell’ street upgrade is just one example of how we are being let down in this regard.
The continued growth of our out of town retail park developments is welcomed, but it is ultimately not helping with the problems which the town centre is facing. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see a new business open up in Carraroe this week and I believe that a number of other new large scale businesses will also open there shortly. But my fear is that this will have an even worse effect on Sligo town centre. We can t have it both I suppose!?
Whilst noting the above, I firmly believe that there are a number of things that our local authority can begin to implement today, to at least to try and stop this trend from getting worse.
Firstly, on a daily basis I hear people saying that parking is too expensive in Sligo or that the reason why people won’t come into town is because the meters don’t take mobile payments, cards or bank notes or because it is to hard to get parking.
As of today Sligo is more expensive to park in than Limerick City, Ballybofey, Castlebar, Westport, Carrick and Letterkenny. So lets start here then? Resolve the bloody parking issue once and for all, reduce the overall charges and make it easier for people to pay for it! This could be done in the space of a month or so. It’s not rocket science! Show the people of Sligo that you are willing to listen and address their concerns. It would be only a small aspect but could have an effect.
Secondly, I ask myself should the Council be doing more to try and attract more businesses into the town centre?! YES THEY SHOULD is the answer!
They should be going out of their way to try an entice new business into our town. Here is a suggestion which I believe could work. Why can’t they consider introducing a new progressive rates system for new start up business in the urban town centre for say their first two years of business? This could be implanted as follows, the first six months of trading they would only pay 50% rates, the second six months 75%, and after 1 and 1/2 years in business and as it is established they would be in a position to pay 100% rates. I am sure this is just one small measure that could help to attract new businesses to set up in town. Is it not better to at least try something rather than watch units remain empty?
In a nut shell, I believe that Sligo County Council and other local groups need to do more to stop this trend and urgently. It really is at an alarming stage. Talking is one thing, but new ideas and action are needed and fast!
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed as always!