Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox
We visited the town of Cavan last week for the first time in many years, and were totally surprised at the stark contrast between it and the town of Longford.
Longford has the advantage of a seemingly better planned town with wider streets, and a wide network of approach roads. Yet, the town of Cavan was ‘alive’ while our lovely town is dying on its feet.
Empty premises, more and more businesses are closing down, leading to more unemployment and more social problems.
Street parking in Cavan was far cheaper. This may seem a small thing, but if people want to browse - which usually leads to some purchase - or ladies need to get hairdos, or gents want to meet up for lunch, the parking cost, determines the length of time allotted for such.
Not everyone wants to walk long distances (in the rain) with a new hairdo. There’s also an unfair system where Tesco effectively have free parking (for those who shop there), while Dunne’s and SuperValu have their own car parks. Everyone pays handsomely to park in Longford.
The Longford Arms has free parking, but we can expect that to change soon too. It’s come to the point that nobody going into the Longford Arms to spend money can get parking, because the place is full of others who park there all day. Top marks to Orlagh Reynolds for offering free parking.
If Longford County Council care about boosting the economy and business survival in the town, why don’t they consider some practical ideas?
* Like for instance, free parking on one or two days of the week, or maybe free every morning until noon.
* A reduced cost of rates guaranteed for five years to help businesses get on their feet.
* A proper farmers market location in a central area of town, e.g. the Tesco car park - integrating our immigrant friends into this practice. We’re all well aware of the new “hub” that’s in the planning process, and it is to be welcomed but life must be injected and encouraged in every street, and every empty premises should be seen as an opportunity for the growth and prosperity of the town.
Let’s give energetic entrepreneurs a fighting chance by not skimming off every opportunistic penny of their income. Look, honestly, at what’s happening as a result of excessive costs? Make things happen, no point in giving lip service while at the same time stripping every cent from retailers.
No point waiting for the next government to be in and throw more good money after bad. Lead the way and start thinking outside the box - the people will remember you, come election time. Far better than gushing speeches, and promises about this and that in the future.
Start now. I’m no expert in this field, but I think it is a crying shame that our Co town is gone to the dogs. It is already on life support, and apart from the brave efforts of a few remaining struggling businesses nothing practical is being done. Let everyone stop talking in fairy tales.
They rarely come true. Little point in talking about what’s to come. What about now? Throwing money at it is not the long term solution, there must be an incentive to provide security. Fleecing the wolf will only lead to frostbite!