Higgins stresses concerns around the impact on some retail sectors

Councillor Clodagh Higgins has called on Galway City Council to set up a business forum to tackle the huge challenges businesses are facing due to Covid-19. 

Higgins was reacting to a number of high profile closures of Debenhams and Laura Ashley in recent days. 

Councillor Higgins said “When you see anchor tenants and retailers who have been around for decades closing up shop in the early stage of Covid-19 that just begs the question how many other family-run businesses will slip away unnoticed? Businesses urgently need support to continue to trade. While the government has announced a series of measures designed to help commercial entities survive the reality is we need to take a hands-on approach at local level and see what can be done to assist these businesses survive”.

“If we fail to protect businesses in Galway it will have far-reaching consequences for the city. Not only will the economy and jobs be impacted but we can kiss good-bye to a vibrant city centre populated with diverse independent and international stores. The retail mix attracts people into the city centre which helps give Galway its unique vibe. Therefore, a reduced retail footprint will impact the social amenity value of the city centre and will affect our sense of community which might never be recovered”.

“While I appreciate Galway City Council is continuously  monitoring the situation, it is now crucial to devise a roadmap to bring us through the aftermath of this crisis. If we fail to, the reality is that some businesses will never reopen their doors. We need to play our part in supporting these businesses in whatever manner we can”.

Councillor Higgins said “I have contacted the Chief Executive and expressed my view that Galway City Council needs to establish a business forum without delay comprising of various business stakeholders across a multiple of sectors from retail, hospitality, tourism, media, transport with representatives from the State agencies like the Local Enterprise Office,  Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Employment Affairs. To be relevant it must have teeth and drive initiatives forward that will ensure Galway is not left lagging behind when the recovery starts”.

“The Council must take the lead in assisting businesses because by assisting business we are also assisting our citizens and communities”. Councillor Higgins said “and now is the time to show our support to business”.

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