01 Oct 2022

Calls for county councils to lead 'opening up' plans for towns

As Covid restrictions are eased further across the country, the Green Party is calling on Local Authorities to lead on ‘Opening Up Plans’ for town centres.

The Party is warning against unintended consequences if a collaborative plan for opening up town centres is not carried out with all town centre business interests.

"Many towns are experimenting with partial pedestrianisation, one way systems and reallocation of space in town centres and while this is welcome, we are of the view that Local Authorities need to work with the business community, disability groups, cycling and walking advocacy groups to ensure that they get it right from the off," said Green Party TD and Community and Rural Affairs Spokesperson, Malcolm Noonan.

The Green Party is saying that many factors need to be taken into consideration; a premises-by-premises adaptation for social distancing, reconfiguring our streets and removing barriers for people with disabilities or visual impairments, the needs of cyclists and safe social spaces as well as the impact on other parts of urban centres brought about by pedestrianisation or traffic reconfiguration.

"We want our town centre shops and cafés to recover but to do so in a way that is safe for customers, for people young and old and where people can feel safe. It is important that local authorities take a proactive approach to the lifting of restrictions and plan their urban centres to meet these new norms," said Green Party Enterprise Spokesperson, Deputy Steven Matthews.

Green Party Spokesperson for Local Government, Deputy Francis Noel Duffy said that Local Government had carried out a vital function in leading the ‘Community Call’ throughout the Covid-19 pandemic but that now they needed to act strategically to ensure that urban centres within their remit are safe and work well for all.

"Setting out with a collaborative plan to open up our town centres will ensure that we get it right and that everyone who has a business interest in our towns and cities have a say in how we reconfigure our public realm and our retail outlets to maximise activity without compromising people’s safety."

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