Public Meeting Report

Following a Welcome to all present and an Introduction from David Kiely, President, Sligo
Chamber, Paul outlined the following as the key themes of his presentation:
– Help Sligo Grow
– Chamber Council Membership
– Chamber Values; Reliability, Productiveness, Effectiveness,Responsiveness, Respectfulness, Inclusivity
– Chamber Activities – The 4 Pillars:
– Tourism; Team Sligo, Fleadh, Tidy Towns, Yeats 2015, Economic Development Entity.
– Industry & Enterprise; Enterprise Exchange, Invest Sligo, Infrastructure – N4, Air, Broadband, Rail, Energy
– City Core; 12 Point Plan, Living City, BIDS
– Membership Networking, Training, Information Briefings
Paul then explained the factual position in relation to Homestore & More.
Long-time Sligo Resident:
Provide attractions, music to get people into town. Music, Dance, Face Painting,
that’s what gets people into town and then they will spend their money.
Mother, Consumer, Unnamed:
Town Core not working, we have to pay for parking, need to get parking for buses,
sequential development not working, Chamber blocking people coming into town.
Local Community Member:
– Why was Retail Park built?
– Why did chamber refuse Planning Permission for Aldi at Retail Park?
– Why was Bus Service stopped to Retail Park by Chamber?
Local Resident, Unnamed:
– Castle Street and High Street are destroyed
– Chamber is blocking Sligo
– Chamber didn’t get the Fleadh
– Chamber killed business in Sligo
– Chamber does not represent the people of Sligo
Local Resident,
Chamber has had a say in why Sligo Town is dead, Chamber are hypocrites,
Town Centre Shop Owner:
For 50 years there has been a family business in Castle Street, 61 people were
employed in Castle Street 4 years ago, 167 people are employed now. Castle
Street is coming back and Heatons has been an important factor in that.
Sligo Resident:
– There should be an increase in Rates for all Derelict Properties in Sligo
– There is a lot of Wasteground at Finisklin suitable for parking
– Why not have a Maritime Museum at Bus Station
Local Community Member (2nd comment):
– Would have liked to see Sligo County Council at the Meeting
– Chamber were the first people in to seek a Determination on Homestore & More.
Local Business Person:
 The Chamber has been a “Golden Circle” and still is a “Golden Circle”.
Cairns Hill Resident, Business in Retail Park, Unnamed:
Why did Chamber target Homestore & More and why did the Chamber not target Homebase.
Local Resident:
– Pretentious that Sligo is a City. New shops were blocked by Chamber Members.
– Footfall in Sligo is small.
– Encouraged the Chamber to act to make Sligo grow.
Gail Mc Gibbon, BID Model Leader:
– Working on the BID Model and only interest is in “Heads on Beds”
“Feet on Street”; is aware of International concerns in relation to recent negative
comments on Social Media
– BIDs put in footfall counters and on average 30,000 people walk through central Sligo every day
– Won Purple Flag, there is a real challenge being in NW of Ireland.
– Noted that 17% of every 100,000 people spend money when visiting a town/city.
Business Person, Mail Coach Road:
– Planning Guidelines are clear that it is Bulk Goods that are for Out-of-Centre Development. Homestore & More does not fit into that Category.
– Castle Street has taken off in the centre of town.
Glencar Resident
– Tamworth in the UK is a town slightly larger than Sligo. Tamworth is an example of a town that was vibrant until Retail Park developed outside of the
town. Today Tamworth centre is dead.
Local Resident 38 years in Sligo:
– Sligo was vibrant; there are now 6 vacant units in O’Connell Street
– We should be having a more constructive conversation, try to see how shoppers would “visit town centre” and then “visit Retail Park”. We don’t have the big
shops, i.e. M&S in Enniskillen. We need to invite retail multinationals to Sligo and people will then travel from a distance to shop in Sligo.
Chamber Member (2nd Comment):
– Agrees that Rates should be charged on Vacant Premises
– O’Connell Street – of the 6 vacant units mentioned, there is in fact only 3 buildings that are fit for use that are vacant
Childcare Supervisor, Unnamed:
– Sligo is a dying town, why is Carrick better, why is Letterkenny better
– It is so hard to drive around Sligo.
Local Resident, 30 years in Sligo:
– The Quinnsworth Arcade is still the same as 30 years ago even 40 years ago
– In relation to Homestore & More – why are Planning restrictions different in Sligo than elsewhere
– Argos were looking to go into Retail Park and ended up in Cleaveragh which is totally inaccessible
– Chamber have huge influence in Planning.
Local Resident:
– Worked in Sligo since 1952, Sligo was vibrant until 1980s
– What influence has Chamber used to get Public Conveniences into Sligo
– A Park for Coaches is badly needed in Sligo
Local Community Member (3rd comment):
– Who in the Chamber sought the Determination on Homestore & More
– Park & Ride Scheme is needed in Sligo
– Why did Callside not go ahead
– Why are extra Rates being charged to shops in the centre of Sligo with outside seated furniture?
Sligo County Councillor:
– Aiming anger at Sligo County Council and not the Chamber would be more appropriate. The Chamber is not responsible for Planning.
– Planning Policy is still a function of the Elected Members of Sligo County Council
– The Development Plan considers Retail Policy; Process for next Development Plan starts in the next few months and will go on for 18 months and if change is wanted by the people of Sligo, that is how it is done through the Development Plan. Be careful what you wish for in changing the Development Plan for Retail Parks. In 2010, Ireland had 6 x times the retail space per head of population that that of England.
– In relation to a Coach Park, Sligo County Council are currently looking at proposals.
Local Resident (2nd Comment):
– Knock Airport should be self-sustainable and should not be supported by Sligo County Council.
Paul Keyes:
– Callside did not go ahead as the company went out of business
– 4 Pillars outlined again
– City Core 12 Point Plan outlined
– 4 Short-Term Priorities outlined.
Local Resident, Unnamed:
– Sligo has a lot going for it
– Infrastructure is an issue
– People should pull together to deliver for Sligo
– Yeats is the major selling point for Tourism
– Sligo should team with Kilkenny
– Sligo should get “pride” in itself.
Businesswoman in High Street:
– Just opened, 4 employees initially and already has 7
– People should remember to buy local
– Tidy Towns are doing great work
– Sligo people should work together and develop the town together.
Person from People before Profit:
– Responding to the Local Councillor, there have been cuts in Sponsorship to Arts and the former County Manager’s final pay settlement was disgraceful.
Chamber Member:
– Please work together for Sligo to make it grow and don’t put negative comments on Facebook; they could have a lasting negative impact on Sligo.
Chamber Member:
– Main gripe is lack of Government Funding for this area.
Member of Sligo Tidy Towns:
– Issue for Sligo is we have no national clout.
– Chamber should have a Strategic Plan and should be pushing it.
– Chamber should be pushing for N4 completion.
– Sligo has a lot to offer.
– We need all to pull together, 5 main targets should be agreed and work collectively to get a better future for Sligo.
Paul Keyes:
– Chamber is engaging with; Minister Donoghue N4 Minister White Energy
– Seeking to engage with Minister Kelly in relation to Sligo County Council debt
– Sligo Chamber membership income is only €60,000; Donegal Co Co has €650,000 for Tourism Promotion alone.
– Chamber is pushing very hard for Coach Park.
– Impetus must come from the grass roots for Sligo to Grow.
– Chamber will assist in any way to work with all for Sligo to Grow.
Local Resident and Mother, Unnamed:
– Facilities needed in City Centre for Teenagers.
President David Kiely:
Thanks to all for vibrant contribution to the meeting. Will sift through comments to establish a “Wish List” for the Town and would like to hold a similar meeting again.