I came to live in Naas when it was a thriving town and as the county town I want to see it thrive again. Growing up above a shop myself, I am very familiar with the retail environment and I know footfall is the lifeblood of any high street business. There are a variety of issues from planning issues to commercial rates to parking to an anchor tenant but I have always believed ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and I am determined to get stuck into these issues if I am elected this May.
One leading factor in the decline of Naas town was the focus on out-of-town retail development in successive town development plans over the past 15 years. We’re now witnessing the implications of these bad planning decisions with shop closures taking place in the town centre on a regular basis. Sitting councillors must accept their share of responsibility in making these bad decisions.
In 2006 the county town was rated the number one place to shop, stay & dine, sadly a 2014 REI survey ranked it at only 74th. The difficulties are well documented, what is needed is a plan for the future.
I met with a number of local traders last week, it follows from many one-to-one meetings I have been having over the past year. Since I got into local politics I believe the first step is listening and understanding the problems before trying to solve them and that is what I have been doing all along.
I recently founded the very successful Sallins Business Association . A new group for Naas on similar lines would be a positive initiative for the revitalisation of Naas town centre.
The Sallins Business Association has gone from strength to strength with over 60 businesses now signed up and a really strong networking, trading and lobby bloc has been created. It gives voice and an internal market to the businesses in Sallins and I see no reason why we could not apply the same approach to Naas and its traders.