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15 Aug 2022

Offaly council chair encourages people to 'shop local' this Christmas

Offaly council chair encourages people to 'shop local' this Christmas

Pictured is Cllr John Carroll, an Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council

The Covid pandemic has affected everybody’s lives in one way or another and probably the best present this Christmas we can get is the assurance of a vaccine that will allow us get back to normality.

This week, the Tribune spoke to Cllr John Carroll, an Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council about the effect on local businesses and commerce and what role the local authority has played during the pandemic in supporting local businesses as well as what role we can play to continue to support our local businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

For businesses and commerce, it has been a devastating year with close-downs, be it temporary, partial or complete. They have had to live with uncertainty since mid-March and as we approach what should be a happy and festive time, they still have no clear road map for the year ahead.

Cllr Carroll believed, however, that Offaly County Council has played an “exceptional role during all of the pandemic by its coordination of the supports on offer by the establishment of the Offaly Community Forum with its 24/ 7 response phone line and ensuring a  close integrated working relationship with all  statuary bodies, the various agencies, sporting group, voluntary and community groups (almost 20) all offering services within the County.”

“The Council via its Local Enterprise office (LEO) was the vital link with business and enterprise, managing and delivering the Restart grant and restart plus which saw them process over €8 million euro to business and enterprises in Offaly who were deeply affected by Covid, all done in a timely fashion.”

The Ireland of 2021 is still uncharted territory, yet unknown which local business will reopen, will people have adopted new shopping habits, will the way we socialise have changed, will our various activists meet in a local hotel or will they continue to use Zoom??

And as Cllr Carroll continued: “This has been a year where communities have stood together in the face of adversity with local organisations showing huge leadership from GAA to IFA to V de P, working with Council, HSE, and the various Agencies they have helped a multitude survive Covid.”

“Now is the time I believe to continue that solidarity by supporting local business as you shop for Christmas and beyond. We are all well aware of the massive increase in shopping online especially since lockdown. Your postman will confirm this as will the proliferation of courier vans on every country road and lane clearly showing online shopping is not just an urban phenomenon.”

“As Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council and in a personal capacity, I ask you to shop local this year. Many local firms are online if that is the way you wish to shop, others operate a click and collect service but many of our small local stores depend on your footfall and purchase of gifts and necessities.”

“It may be the firm that provides a job or part-time employment for your neighbour or neighbours child or even your own child. It may be the business that annually gave your school or your community/sporting group spot prizes for raffle or straight sponsorship. It is a business that pays rates to local authority that ensures we have public lighting, street cleaning, playgrounds, plus many other day to day services, in general  a public realm to be proud of.”

“For those reasons and hundreds more, it is not just important that you shop local but vital be it purchasing online from our local stores, or click and collect or (depending on Covid guidelines) in they most social and desirable way by physical presence.”

“I am delighted that our Council continues to work to promote business in towns by assistance not just in monetary terms but more important in a practical manner with the Christmas lights ( providing connection points etc) and decorations. Again as in other years our council is introducing free parking for at least one hour in shopping area including free parking in Wilmer Rd car park to encourage shoppers but also ensure rotation of spaces in premium locations.

"I know our traffic warden is very pro-business and unless you abuse the regulations completely you will not get a parking ticket in the Christmas shopping period. It is important to maintain rotation so as many shoppers as possible can access Centre town parking at this period.”

“Do remember to shop local, shop safe by compliance with guidelines and no doubt it will be a Christmas that will be remembered, make sure you help to make it a good Christmas with good memories for as many as possible. Nollaig Shona daoibh.”

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