Jobs and crime top poll

THE absence of a Garda presence on the streets of Portlaoise, along with a lack of employment opportunities, were just two of the concerns expressed by residents in a recent survey.

THE absence of a Garda presence on the streets of Portlaoise, along with a lack of employment opportunities, were just two of the concerns expressed by residents in a recent survey.

Portlaoise’s litter problem was also on peoples’ lists of negatives, with almost 20 per cent saying that a general lack of cleanliness was their least favourite aspect of the town.

Other concerns included drug abuse and the related crimes, poor shopping facilities and the ‘clannish’ nature of local people.

People were also worried about overcrowding the town’s schools, a lack of childcare facilities, and the lack of planning for the town centre.

Town Mayor Matthew Keegan said that a lot of good things had happened in Portlaoise. “Most towns would give their left arm to have what Portlaoise has. We have had the opening of the south eastern orbital link road, as well as the opening of Scoil Chriost Rí and CBS schools, and the Treo Nua centre. We also had the opening of Tesco Extra and Boots which gave big confidence to the retail sector”.

Mayor Keegan said that Portlaoise has been hard done by regarding the litter service. “The Tidy Towns committee do fantastic work, but the town has been unfortunate in the litter competitions.

But if there are bad reports we have to face up to them”.

Regarding the lack of a Garda presence, Mayor Keegan said everybody was concerned about this. “There have been 17 retirements in the Gardaí in Portlaoise. Technically there are enough Gardaí in Portlaoise but there is concern about the visual presence of Gardaí around the town”.

It was not all bad as good aspects of Portlaoise were also noted in the survey. Top of the list of positives for the town was its geographical location, with good neighbours and friends coming in a close second.

A quarter of all surveyed said that to improve the town there needs to be more investment, more new businesses and more employment.

This was closely matched by people who wanted Main Street revitalised and pedestrianised, and more activities for the youth of the town.

The survey was compiled for the website www.portlaoisepictures.com.

.Survey organiser John Dunne said that he was “delighted” with the wide range of suggestions,