TRADERS IN beleaguered Narrow West Street are making an urgent call for vital changes to their 'abandoned street' before every business is forced to close.
A series of changes to the street over the past few years, including removing parking spaces, footpaths and placing bollards, as well as skyhigh council rates, has seen businesses struggling to remain open and many more conceding to defeat.
11 out of the 19 shops are now closed, and those left are desperate to hold on to what they have and attract customers back to the street.
'If something doesn't change soon, this will probably be my last year in business,' says Aideen Joyce-Jones, whose fashion boutique has been in Narrow West Street since 1977.
' The stress of worrying how I'm going to pay the rates is killing me, and I couldn't sleep all over Christmas dreading coming back to all the bills and more pressure.'
The problems really began for the traders, and also for customers trying to shop in the small street, when works began by Drogheda Borough Council to pedestrianise the main street in 2005.
'While it might have started out as a good plan all those years ago,' says Brendan Moore, who has worked in his butcher shop in the street for 35 years, 'it certainly didn't turn out as planned.
' There is far too much space lost now, and Narrow West Street has been made completely inaccessible to cars or shoppers, so sadly I can't really blame people anymore for not coming over.
He says with Pricebusters now closing, scaffolding all over derelict premises, and boutique Bella relocating, if something isn't done soon, it will be 'an empty ghetto'.
'I can see the street being closed to traffic as the only solution at this stage,' adds Mary Stanley, who has been running Ringos Fashions from her shop for two decades.
'I can't see the council paying out the money it would take to mend everything that has gone so wrong for this abandoned street, but that shouldn't mean we are ignored altogether.'
John and Francis Hurley run a thriving little delicatessen despite the problems they encounter on a daily basis, and feel the are not getting value for their money or effort.
'It is now an embarrasment to have a shop in this once pretty street, and a concerted effort has now got to be made to improve the experience for shoppers,' says Francis.