Sunday 19 November 2017

Disappointment as 'Town Team' proposal blocked

Swords town.
Swords town.

John Manning

A LOCAL councillor has sharply criticised the Government for 'blocking' a proposal aimed at revitalising struggling town centres like Swords.

Cllr. Darragh Butler has criticised the Government for blocking Fianna Fáil proposals to revive town centres that were put forward in the Dáil last week.

According to Cllr. Butler: 'Fianna Fáil put forward a plan to tackle exorbitant rates and rents and to bring people back into towns, but these proposals were blocked by the Government.

'The Fianna Fáil Bill, which was debated in the Dáil last week, proposed the establishment of a Town Team in each local authority to implement a town revitalisation plan.'

Cllr. Butler said: 'Such proposals and actions are vital for Fingal towns such as Swords, but unfortunately Fine Gael and Labour said that they would not be supporting these proposals.

'Town centres and main streets such as Swords are struggling to compete against out of town developments and we put forward a bold new vision for reviving town centres, main streets and supporting local businesses.

'The issue of high rents, commercial rates and lack of parking and parking charges need to be addressed by such a 'Town Team' if we are to have any chance or revitalising our town centres and bringing businesses and customers back.

The proposed Town Teams would have overseen a revamping of the commercial rates system, abolished upward-only rents, changed parking charges structures, changed the planning laws to encourage town centre development and introduced new 'cultural initiatives' to keep town centres busy.

The Town Teams were also designed to encourage greater community engagement with the planning strategy of our towns, examining new financial tools for local authorities to invest in urban renewal and introducing a new 'Purple Flag Strategy' to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Cllr. Butler concluded: 'It was deeply disappointing that the Fine Gael and Labour Government chose not to support these proposals which would have given our local towns a much needed boost.

'With regard to Swords, we need to look at initiatives to bring businesses back to Swords Main Street and North Street and the Government need to give local authorities such as Fingal County Council more powers to put in place measures that may help achieve this.'

Fingal Independent

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