Emergency business meeting hears 51 retail units are empty in the city centre
By COLIN BARTLEY
OVER 40 retailers attended an emergency meeting called by the Mayor of Kilkenny addressing the issue of business closures in the city.
The retailers were joined at the meeting in City Hall by other stakeholders of business in the city – Kilkenny County Council executives, County Councillors, business groups, and members of the public.
The meeting, called by Mayor Martin Brett, lasted an hour and a half, and opened up essential lines of discussion regarding the situation facing businesses in the city currently.
Those present heard that 51 premises in the city centre are currently unoccupied. Some of these premises are not in a good state of repairs, which affects the overall look of the city.
One of the most contentious issues raised was parking charges. Depending on which part of the city the business is located, opinions on parking charges differed.
Some business called for parking charges to be implemented where deliveries and staff are taking advantage of free parking spaces, meaning customers parking is limited.
Others argued one-hour free parking in certain areas is needed, as pay-parking is a deterrent to consumers.
Tim Butler, Director of Services in Kilkenny County Council explained to those present if one-hour free parking is implemented it will take €600,000 from the council’s budget annually.
Other issues raised at the meeting included rental prices, insurance hikes, and business rates.
John Hurley, Chief Executive Officer of Kilkenny Chamber said; “It’s starting a conversation that needs to be had.”
Speaking with KilkennyNow.ie, Mr Hurley said: “It seemed to be the same issues arising all the time, many of them are the same old issues, rates, rents, insurance, and parking.
“The next step is to create this task force the council is calling for. This will focus on researching the key issues, the most challenging and demanding issues and dealing with them.”
Mayor Brett concluded the meeting and said both Mr Butler and himself will take the issues raised and bring them to the council with the intention of creating a task force later in the year.