Business people are up in arms in Ballymahon this week over the increase in casual traders descending upon the town.
Locals claim that businesses in the south Longford town are feeling the pinch as a direct result of the trading, and members of the Ballymahon Traders’ Association claim that casual traders are using valuable car parking spaces from which to sell their wares.
“The major problem is that they are taking approximately 15-17 car spaces away from shoppers with their stalls,” Paddy Diffley, Ballymahon Traders’ Association fumed. “Then they park the vans on the opposite side of the road and take up more space.”
Mr Diffley went on to say that shop fronts in Ballymahon were being blocked and that when shoppers came into the town, the unavailability of parking space meant that they were driving on, causing local businesses to suffer financially. “At first the casual traders were here one day a week, now it is three or four days, and that includes Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Mr Diffley continued. “Casual trading existed in Ballymahon to accommodate country food and farm produce - not to sell clothing and other goods. The casual traders are not known to us and they are certainly not locals.”
The Ballymahon Traders’ Association claims that business was on the rise in the picturesque south Longford town in recent months, having suffered greatly during the recession.
The casual trading, it says, is now having a negative impact on the town’s new growth. “There is a lot of frustration here in Ballymahon over this,” Mr Diffley added. “Ballymahon was starting to show signs of improvement, but at the moment, things are not great. Business people decided to park their cars in the spaces where the casual trading was taking place, but the traders just pitched their tents around the cars, put the clothes out in front of them and carried on about their business. It is not fair on businesses in the town and the casual traders certainly do not have any respect for businesses in Ballymahon.”
In a statement, Longford County Council said that it was powerless to confront the matter at the present time, because it was awaiting national legislation on the matter, which it stated, would result in the introduction of new by-laws on casual trading in the months ahead.
“New legilsation on this issue is currently going through goverment at present,” a spokesperson said. “When this legislation is enacted, it will result in the introduction of new by-laws on casual trading, in towns across the country.”