Eoghan Dalton Reports
A report examining city centre trading has made for sobering viewing, according to one Fianna Fáil Councillor.
The health check, produced by the local authority’s economic team for the Waterford City Centre Management group, covers the period July to December 2018 and contains a number of key indicators of city centre viability such as footfall, vacancy levels, retailer representations, cleanliness and accessibility.“Although there is some promise in the report, such as the encouraging news that Waterford City is once again the cleanest city in Ireland, its economic red flags cannot be ignored,” said Cllr Eddie Mulligan.
“There are a number of footfall counters located throughout the city, and even though they’re strong, they’re not improving as we would have expected after the completion of the urban renewal construction works.”
The year past saw 14 new retail units open and includes the likes of Caffé Nero and Chopped.
However, the health check also shows a slight increase in the number of vacant street level properties. It stands at 11.51 per cent, an increase of 1.76 per cent on last year. Cllr Mulligan says the figure is “simply not good enough”. “This re-enforces and endorses an absence of investment in the core City Centre, which urgently needs addressing,” Cllr Mulligan said. The report as a whole shows that Waterford’s economy is on “very thin ice, with some local economists suggesting that we are in a borderline recession”.
The party’s General Election candidate continued: “This report is sobering and cannot be allowed to gather dust. The early indications must be acted upon by the City Centre Management Group’s collaborative efforts with the support of Government. “More than ever, our city needs leadership and direction from our Government representatives and unfortunately that’s just not happening.”Cllr Mulligan also hit out at John Halligan for telling party colleague Deputy Mary Butler that the IDA cannot “force or cajole” companies to invest outside Dublin. This, said the City East Councillor, was the Minister acting as a spin for the Government.
“Minister Halligan is a member of Government and has been for some time now. He needs to wake up, realise that his city is struggling and use his influence to engage with the IDA, the potential companies themselves and lead the way in crystallising Waterford’s recovery instead of sitting back and accepting stagnation,” added Cllr Mulligan.