Tuesday 15 May 2007

Town reveals blueprint for economic success

A TOWN that economic success overlooked is determined to get back on track with a blueprint for the future.

The Cobh and Harbour Chamber of Commerce was so concerned about the town’s failure to capitalise on boom times, it commissioned Brady Shipman Martin consultants to draw up a report highlighting the area’s failures and ways to deal with them.

The extensive report was launched last night.

The chamber’s president Joe MacCoitir said the community hoped it would be “a signpost towards extensive redevelopment” but warned that cross-community effort was needed to ensure its full implementation.

Cobh, in recent years, has lost a huge number of industrial jobs, including the closure of the Ispat and IFI plants. Efforts to replace them have been hindered by the lack of 21st century roads.

Mr MacCoitir said his organisation would lobby extensively for the creation of a new route off the N25 (Cork-Midleton road) passing through Fota, over Belvelly Bridge and into the town centre.

“We have the same road system of 40 or 50 years ago. The IDA has told us that we won’t get industrialists coming in along the Fota Road — it’s a definite turn-off. Companies have told us the same thing, this was probably one of the main reasons why the former IFI plant was overlooked for job creation. Nearly all our traditional industrial jobs are gone,” the chamber president said.

The report also highlights Cobh’s lack of retail quantity and diversity, which is causing money to flow out of the town to higher profile shopping venues.

As a large percentage of people living in Cobh have to commute to work, they are not getting involved in the local community and often do their shopping in the city or other towns on their way home.

Mr MacCoitir said that the town especially needed more restaurants, due to its tourist potential.

“It has to be a cross-community effort,” said Mr MacCoitir. “I am not fearful for the future, provided we start doing something about it now.”

On a positive note, he said that the planned redevelopment of the Ispat site on Haulbowline and the possibility that Spike Island could be turned into a heritage site should auger well for the future.

Irish Examiner

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