City Council Independent member Mary Roche has welcomed the formation of the new Waterford Independent Traders Group to represent the interests of some of the small businesses in the city. “It is great that the retail community is getting active and it will be interesting to see what this group brings to the table”, she said.

Cllr Roche has spoken in the past about the need for some city retailers to invest more in their premises. “We have policies in our City Development Plan protecting the primacy of the city centre”, she commented, “but that policy in under increasing pressure from attempts by neighbouring authorities to undermine our core shopping offering. The stronger the city is, the more we will be able to resist those pressures”.

“The City Council has invested heavily in the award-winning urban design of Waterford and in promoting the city as a destination for shopping as well as trying to attract new shopping investment and anchor tenants who would underpin the shopping facilities available here”, the councilor continued. She hopes that this new retail group will become as active as the Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee “which has always been a very constructive force for the betterment of the city”.

“We have invested in many joint ventures”, she said, “such as the provision of the Carousel at Christmas in John Roberts Square, which was widely welcomed. The more businesses that are willing to invest, the easier it will be to ensure the attractiveness of the city all year round”.

Asked what she thought the retailers might bring to the table she cited the provision of larger (circa 1,000 sq metre) units, of which there was a total absence in Waterford. She also mentioned investment in promotion of the city at key times of the year, especially Christmas and in summer. “The retailers are perfectly placed to offer incentives to attract shoppers to Waterford which will of course benefit their own bottom line”, she said. “Any action is to be welcomed. After all we are all on the same side, promoting our wonderful city and working together to overcome these difficult times”.