A GROUP that represents retailers in Ennis has said that pedestrianisation will not work and is bad for business in the town.
Michelle Madden, a member of Ennis Chamber’s Retail Committee, described pedestrianisation of the town centre as an “impediment to business”.
“It doesn’t help business, I’m afraid and I don’t think Ennis town is actually geared for pedestrianisation,” Ms Madden told a public meeting in Ennis on Thursday night.
The former Ennis Town Council has on several occasions attempted to introduce pedestrianisation on a trail basis in the town centre.
In recent years, a limited system of pedestrianisation has been in place during the weeks before Christmas.
Ms Madden, a former President of Ennis Chamber said, “Pedestrianisation is a big impediment to trade in Ennis.
“Four years ago we did a survey over the summer months. It was meant to last for six months on Saturdays. It lasted five weeks.
“I have a report here from Ennis traders, particularly O’Connell Street traders. Over the five-week period, 22 of them were strongly opposed to pedestrianisation on a Saturday. Only five of them were in favour of continuing.”
Ms Madden was speaking at a meeting on proposed measures to stimulate job creation in the town.
She put forward a “shopping list” of measures, including reduced parking and better motorway signage for Ennis that retailers want local councilors to deliver upon.
“That’s a big impediment to retail,” said Ms Madden on the current cost of parking in Ennis.
She continued, “We’ve done surveys ourselves on it. People are not happy paying €1.40 an hour. I think €1 an hour is plenty and maybe the first hour every morning free.”
Ms Madden praised the former council’s free parking policy brought in last December alongside pedestrainisation of the town’s streets in the week before Christmas.
“It was great. It brought people into town. They spent money in town. They stayed in town. That creates jobs, it retains jobs,” she said.
The meeting was attended by 67 business people from industry, retail, hospitality, construction, town centre management and other key sectors.
The aim was to provide initial enterprise and job creation input to the Clare Local Enterprise Office’s (LEO) six year economic plan as well as to compile a result-driven report asking the LEO’s and the Ennis Municipal District Council’s support in the implementation of measures outlined.
Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG), an elected member of Clare County Council and local businessman, told the meeting it is important that Ennis and Clare is “not left behind” when it comes to job creation.
“We need to pull back job creation to the West of Ireland,” he added.
For full reports from Ennis Jobs Strategy Meeting see this weeks Clare People or visit our Digital Edition.