Downtown Portlaoise traders group is gearing up for a busy year

Downtown Portlaoise traders group is gearing up for a busy year

The Downtown Portlaoise Traders Group has a full agenda for the new year.

The Christmas programme is well up and running with the switching on of the Christmas lights on Main Street last weekend and the Downtown Christmas Market on Sunday.

Santa arrived in the afternoon and was available for selfies, and the Santa Fun Run proved very popular and a great success.

For the new year the Downtown group is looking forward to working closely with Laois County Council with the view to setting up a new Chamber of Commerce in the town.

Talks are at a tentative stage, and if the plan is to be a runner then it would take place in the second half of the year.

“We are trying to make the Downtown Group more business focussed, rather than Christmas focussed,” said the Chairman of the Group, Matthew Kennelly.

The group is already engaging with the Council on the Portlaoise Public Realm strategy, which will be published also next year.

“We are looking forward to the Public Realm Strategy and embracing change for the town,” stated Mr Kennelly.

“We have had a level of consultation on the future of the town which we never had before, and we have had a good deal of input into it.

“There is still another meeting or two to go before we see any final plans.

“One of the things we would like to see is a design for the Christmas lights.

“We would like to see this forming part of the final Strategy.

“Another area we are concerned with is obviously parking, and encouraging more people to live in the town.

“At the moment when it comes to the town centre we tend to have a doughnout effect, and it's crucial to break this and get more people living in the town centre.”

The Downtown Group has also set up a text alert system for its members and non-members. Anyone who wishes more information on the initiative are invited to contact Downtown Portlaoise.

“On Main Street we have seen a few businesses opening this year, including the Leinster Express. We are very happy to see the occupancy of vacant buildings taking place.

“And some members of our group have featured in Retail Excellence Awards, so the message is getting out there that Portlaoise is a great town to shop in, and has plenty to offer.

“We would like to thank the local councillors and the Gardai who have worked very closely with us,” noted Mr Kennelly.