It’s not often we get political but we hope you will soon be in post and will be rearing with enthusiasm and resources to tackle the woeful neglect of our rural towns and villages.
Drive through the West of Ireland and Midlands and you cannot help but be upset by the struggling communities typified by decimated retail offerings, physical neglect and a complete lack of innovative approaches. Not to mention dire broadband. Retail stimulus is needed. Painting hoardings on eyesore buildings or adding scenic posters to the windows of empty retail buildings in not development. It is stagnation.
A grossly delayed and greatly reduced Leader programme, crippling rates and a dire lack of footfall will see our towns and villages condemned forever to a forlorn future of stubborn neglect. Rural retail needs a stimulus like the reduced VAT rate (or other such mechanism) for the tourism sector.
We love a UK initiative called Pub is the Hub http://www.pubisthehub.org.uk/. Really practical and really impressive. Would it work here ? Of course it would. Our food and creative sectors are key to future growth-and tourism of course (but in all honesty, it is a struggle in non coastal and city locations).
With our funding hats on we welcomed Government back programmes such as CEDRA (a great idea) and REDZ (also a great idea),but they came and went. Are they being mainstreamed ? How do they fit with LEADER ? What’s the plan ? Is there a plan?
Would love to get a real conversation going on rural revitalisation – a solutions based conversation. What do you think?