Towns throughout Ireland are disrupted and Salthill is no different. But stating the obvious without proposing solutions allows the status quo continue and if elected on May 24 I want to change these lost years.

The evolution of consumer shopping patterns and the impact of legacy issues from the recession are leaving their footprint on our village. Consumer demand has changed and the challenge now is to stop walking in glue and work to develop real policies that will make Salthill fit for purpose. Repeating the same worn out policies and expecting different results will not create a healthy ecosystem for businesses and communities to thrive.

Nothing highlights this more than the need to reinvent the vacant commercial units and derelict sites we see around us.

Consequentially, we need to streamline the change-of-use planning process which will help reimagine these empty premises as civic and residential spaces, galleries and recreational, education or office units and encourage footfall back where it belongs.

It is imperative that we create a Salthill where people and communities want to visit, congregate and linger. Let’s be imaginative. Let’s demand proactive planning that is architect driven. Let’s create a public realm that revives and does not drain; spruce the place up and add some street furniture.

Let’s re-create the thriving night-time economy that was once so evident here. We have all the components necessary for daytime with the Prom, parks, Leisureland and the Aquarium but little for evening-time. A purposeful night time economy would take the shape of an art gallery, an active space that would celebrate the visual arts, a dedicated craft centre, outdoor sculptures. The possibilities are endless.

Make it a rate controlled area for those willing to take a punt on starting a business that contributes positively to the retail mix. This would be a good idea to help incubate artisan retailers who contribute handsomely to a town’s offering and a customer’s experience.

There is so much that can be done and businesses in Salthill and the Village Committee have certainly not lost their drive and ambition for our community. On the contrary. But the suggested measures referred to cannot be driven by them alone.

Political will and representation for the village with a commitment to fighting for funding must be present to achieve this. Otherwise, we will have more of the same old promises and the same old results.

It is only through policy-driven solutions with the corresponding ambition for Salthill that we will make our community resilient and help offset some of the worst threats facing us.


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