Tullamore businesses fear closures over road disruption
A number of business owners in Tullamore have expressed fear for the viability of their businesses due to the ongoing and widespread disruption caused by streetscape works in the town.
The owners of boutique Park Avenue 23 on William Street in Tullamore, Regina McGreal and Kelli Vickers, have expressed fears for their business due to the disruptive works taking place right outside their door.
"Town re-energising sounds wonderful in theory, however, in reality, wider footpaths and smaller roads equal no parking which equals no shoppers and no shop," Regina said.
"It's simple maths. We are struggling. There is no point sugar-coating the problems that have been thrown at us," she added.
"I would like to reiterate that our business is open and we thank you all for your support to date and hopefully together we can get through the storm. Whilst the roadworks are a deterrent, I would ask you to shop local to keep us all on William street."
Cllr Ken Smollen has raised this issue at Municipal District level and has said he's been contacted by a number of businesses on William Street and elsewhere in the town feeling the effects of the road works which have been ongoing since the beginning of the year.
"Trade has been so badly affected that borrowings for much-needed shop fittings had to be used instead to pay wages," Ken said in reference to Park Avenue 23.
"Two other employees have had their hours cut and with footpath paving works right outside their door expected to take three weeks to complete, the two extremely worried ladies told me that they simply do not have enough funds to pay wages while these works take place."
He said a business very close to Park Avenue 23 is also "in very real danger of having to close its doors."
"Two other business owners on William Street also contacted me about their concerns with two employees in one of them having already lost their jobs," Cllr Smollen claimed.
"Despite what some ‘good news propagandists’ might say, these are real people doing everything possible to keep their business doors open and spinning good news stories is not in any way helping anyone. It is instead creating mistrust," he claimed.
He called for "a real business plan for Tullamore." He said the town is "under severe pressure, with many people now going to outlying towns such as Mullingar, Athlone and Portlaoise to shop while Tullamore is dying on its feet."
"I would urge the people of Tullamore, Clara, Killeigh, Killina, Rahan, Mucklagh and all other outlying areas to show your support for the very hardworking and now very hard-pressed businesses in our town and in particular William Street for as long as the street enhancement works are taking place."
Businesses are particularly worried about the Christmas shopping period, typically beginning in the middle of November through December. They fear people unable to park close to the town and put off by works will go elsewhere.
Offaly County Council is offering one-hour free parking in the old Texas carpark with the same offer rolling out to the town centre next month. They have also indicated that no works will take place on the streetscape during December.
They have continued to say that the finished streetscape will prioritise pedestrians which will, in turn, benefit the businesses currently feeling a negative impact.
Offaly County Council has been contacted for comment on the specific concerns of businesses in the town.