Comment: Tackling dereliction in Portlaoise Town Centre

Labour Party County Councillor demands action on vacant buildings in Portlaoise

By Cllr Noel Tuohy

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By Cllr Noel Tuohy

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Labour Party Laois County Councillor for Portlaoise Municipal District

Dereliction Portlaoise

Badly damaged former County Hotel on Main St, Portlaoise

The Council has made great strides in trying to support and assist the revival and renewal of the Town centre. These ongoing initiatives are important and welcome.

Strategically, the local authority has secured a commitment from the Courts Service, that the court house will be relocated from the Main Street to somewhere more appropriate, at the earliest juncture, and as soon as a suitable alternative site is identified.

Then the court house could be used possibly for a county museum to complement the Dunamaise Arts Centre. This would be far more appropriate. Similarly, in its wisdom and despite some criticism, the Council moved to secure the former Shaws premises to relocate the county library there.

This is a good move, a strategic move and one that will have lasting, long term benefits for the Main Street and town centre.

The challenges facing the town centre of Portlaoise are not unique. The so-called doughnut effect, competition from large multinationals and some questionable planning decisions in the past have taken their toll on traditional, small, independent family run shops in towns all over the country.

Portlaoise is no exception.

However, town centres can be restored and revived. We have seen many examples of this. It is heartening to see Kildare town recently being voted the most litter free in the country.

It would be appropriate in this regard to pay tribute to the tireless work of Cllr Jerry Lodge and his colleagues like Kathleen O'Brien for the trojan work they do in this regard to improve the appeal and aesthetic of our town's appearance.

But unfortunately, all this good work by the Council and by the Tidy Towns, by the community and all the great plans that the Council officials and other stakeholders have for reviving the town centre are being hindered by the negligence and neglect of a handful, who seem to care less about our town and community.

It is incument on the Counicl to tackle the derelict, disused and unsightly building along Main Street and in the environs of the town centre.

Some of them are scandalous and have been left neglected for years. Some of them are being let fall into rack and ruin and eyesores by people who have the means to maintain them far better, if they were to bother.

These derelict buildings damage the entire town. They are a poor reflection on the town. Their owners are not friends to this Town, this community or the other businesses who work hard to maintain their properties and run their businesses...and let md add pay their rates.

When you visit any town or city, you don't head for the supermarkets or car parks on the edge of town.

You head for the town centre, to walk around, to shop, to socialise. We have many good and thriving businesses in the town centre and on Main Street. We have news businesses and shops opening.

They deserve better from us. They deserve more from us. They need the Council to tackle derelict sites and run down premises so as to improve the visual amenity and the first impressions that visitors have of our county town.

A few bad eggs can spoil everything; a few rotten apples can destroy everything and these run down, rotten premises are spoiling businesses and holding back the revival of the town centre and run counter productive to everything we are trying to do here to improve things for our community and the commercial well being of local shops and businesses.

The legislation to tackle derelict, vacant and neglected properties is there; it's high time we enforced it and dealt with the few bad eggs who are letting the Town down, all for the want of paint and a bit of respect for their neighbours, other businesses and the Town of Portlaoise.