LOUTH TD Peter Fitzpatrick has received a commitment from Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan that he will make a policy change in the coming weeks to ensure that a major focus is put on the development of town centres throughout the country.
The Louth GAA boss lobbied the minister about the matter after witnessing the demise of both Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk and Main Street in Ardee.
While Deputy Fitzpatrick regularly frequents businesses in both areas, he insists they are far from fulfilling their true potential but he said that Minister Hogan’s commitment to help rectify the problem was a “big statement” from the new government that would benefit town centres both locally and nationally.
Fitzpatrick has been deeply involved with discussions regarding the current problems on Clanbrassil Street in the last week or so but he insists this new move could help revitalise a street which he has much fonder memories of.
Speaking to The Dundalk Democrat about the matter, Deputy Fitzpatrick said: “It’s very clear that public policy has devastated the centre of Dundalk, Ardee and other towns in the county.”
The Fine Gael representative said there was a “common concern” among business owners at present throughout the county and he said he listened to plenty of them on Friday when he went on a walkabout in the two main shopping streets of Ardee and Dundalk.
He said: “The traders are at their wits end trying to survive and if normal business is disrupted then it could put some over the edge.
“With that in mind, on Saturday I made a call to Phil Hogan about the matter and he told me he was well aware of the concerns.
“He told me he will implement a change of policy to try and resolve the matter.”
The change in policy will involve changes to the local government and planning development plan and will see a focus put back on town centre developments. Deputy Fitzpatrick is due to meet Minister Hogan in government buildings on Wednesday evening to discuss the matter in greater detail.
Minister Phil Hogan is scheduled to visit Dundalk on Friday April 29.