A HAIRDRESSER believes the hearts of the country's towns are being "ripped out" by shopping centres.
Arthur Rainbow (above) has been in business for 17 years, but he says small firms are now struggling more than ever before.
He pays thousands of euro in rates annually at Eyre Hair in Newbridge but he was faced with many challenges in the past six months, particularly with water shortages. He said that Kildare County Council agreed to devise a payment plan after he fell behind with his rates.
But he said councils should consider incentives to bring in customers, such as free parking. There is also the issue of less footfall on Eyre Street as shoppers favour going to the nearby Whitewater centre.
"By putting everything at the top of the town, Newbridge is really suffering. We need something at this end -- even free parking here would mean people would leave their cars in the town centre and walk up to the shopping centre. They'd pass by smaller businesses on their way and everyone would benefit."