Fianna Fáil launches a new town centre policy document tackling crippling commercial rates, high rents, unfair parking charges and derelict buildings
Speaking today at the launch of “Streets Ahead” a new Fianna Fáil policy document setting out a fresh vision for the future of Irish town centres Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen T.D. said “Towns across Ireland are suffering particularly badly with business closures and job losses. They need a concrete plan backed up by real actions to get them moving again. Our Policy tackles crippling commercial rates and rents, the burden of parking charges, and introduces new town teams to take the lead in revitalising Irish towns”.
According to Deputy Cowen shock closures of high profile businesses such as Blacktie and HMV underline the challenges that Irish retailers face in towns the length and breadth of Ireland. “It’s an all too familiar sight in every town in Ireland. Over the past number of years businesses have moved out of town centres or closed leaving a hole in the heart of Irish towns. The burden of commercial rates and high rents combined with heavy parking charges is killing off businesses. Our policy document set out a series of initiatives to address the grave challenges facing towns across Ireland” said Deputy Cowen.
Outlining some of the proposals Deputy Cowen commented that addressing commercial rates was at the heart of the policy. “We are proposing a new commercial rates system that incentives new businesses, has an inability to pay clause, places a rates surcharge on out of Town Centres that will help ensure a fairer rates system. This will help ensure new start-ups are encouraged and struggling retailers and business are given space to breathe”. Deputy Cowen also re-iterated Fianna Fáil’s position to abolish upward only rent reviews to help tackle exorbitant rents.
“We also need to make it easier to get people into towns, and creating a flexible parking charge system that encourages short term stays and rewards return shoppers is a vital part of that” according to Deputy Cowen.
“Towns are a vital part of the economic and social life of communities. This policy reflects the need to create safe lively town centres that form the heart of their communities. Cultural events festivals, reforming planning laws, engaging in safe street purple flag campaigns all led by specific town teams will help revitalise the vibrancy of Irish towns.”
“Our policy document is as a result of extensive consultation with the stakeholders, party colleagues and members. This will form part of series of proposals that will be brought forward over the coming months. We would hope that the Government will seriously consider our proposals and provide the necessary tools, direction and policy to drive these concepts to bring about a thriving business sector in our towns,” Deputy Cowen concluded.