Longford is in dire need of a major overhaul if it is to attract a new wave of business investment.
That was the message to come from the first meeting of the new Longford Municipal District last Wednesday evening.
Councillors learned that local authority chiefs were planning not one, but two strategies to try and kick-start the local economy.
Director of Services Frank Sheridan said one half centred largely on the formation of a new Local Community Development Committee (LCDC).
The other, he revealed, consisted of a special economic Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) tasked with identifying the main factors affecting Longford’s business sector.
Head of Enterprise, Michael Nevin backed those comments up by suggesting the time had come for local authorities to take on board what struggling businesses were telling them.
“Incentivising new business and consumers to Longford is always welcome,” he said. “But we have a lot of work to do because the image of Longford town might not have been as good as it could have been over the years.”
Mr Nevin praised the efforts certain members, like Cllrs Gerry Warnock and John Bro wne, had shown in raising a number of proposals for discussion.
Both had submitted proposals to deal Longford town’s paid parking woes.
Mr Nevin said those ideas, while insightful, would have to make financial sense from a local authority perspective. “It’s great to see people being proactive and ideas being brought forward. In the local authority’s case, there must be a business case for it and be sustainable.
“We (Council) can’t be cutting our nose off to spite our face.”
Many of those listening on accepted Mr Nevin’s assessment of Longford’s present economic fortunes.
Cllr Padraig Loughrey (FF) said it was imperative the council acted swiftly and decisively in a bid to help hard-pressed businesses.
Independent Cllr Gerry Warnock went a step further however, claiming now was the time for Longford to undergo a major face-lift of its own.
“Longford really needs to be rebranded,” he remarked.
“Things like parking, derelict buildings and the visual look of Longford. These are all areas we can address and a lot of work needs to be done.”