If elected to Kildare County Council this week, my focus for the next five years will be working to revitalise our town centres. This is such an important issue and one I’ve raised at every opportunity; be it at the doors, in speaking to retailers and in policy creation through our party nationally.
I’m outlining a series of proposals to revitalise town centres and support local businesses by tackling crippling commercial rates, high rents, parking charges and derelict shops.
I believe the need to revive our towns and support local business is the single biggest challenge facing Co Kildare. Closed shop fronts, derelict buildings, empty town centres and news of local job losses have become all too familiar here.
Far too many local businesses have been forced to lay off staff and shut their doors in recent years because of crippling costs and a lack of credit. Without adequate support, many simply cannot compete with large shopping developments across the border or on the outskirts of town centres.
I firmly believe that the key to economic recovery locally is to revitalise our town centres, support our local businesses and allow local jobs to be created. Fianna Fáil has published a comprehensive strategy setting out a fresh vision for our town centres. This includes the establishment of a Town Team within Kildare County Council to oversee ambitious revitalisation plans to:
– Revamp the Commercial Rates system
– Tackle upward only rents
– Change the parking charges structure
– Change the planning laws to encourage town centre development
– Introduce new cultural initiatives to keep main streets busy
– Boost community engagement on planning strategy in towns
– Introduce a new Purple Flag Strategy on anti-social behaviour
– Provide new financial tools for local authorities to invest in urban renewal.
Fine Gael blocked these proposals in the Dáil six months ago and yet still they still have not come up with any plans of their own to help our revive our town centres and create local jobs.
I believe the survival of our local towns is far too important to fall victim to political games. If elected to Kildare County Council I intend to make the revival of our town centres in Kildare a top priority and push for cross-party support for constructive and realistic measures that will help the economic recovery of this county.