Cork County Council has announced an ambitious strategy to re-ignite the County’s Covid-19 devastated economy. In a lengthy briefing document, the Council’s CEO Tim Lucey outlined the plan this week to get towns and villages back on their feet after two months of lockdown.
Mr Lucey will present the plan at behind-closed-doors meetings to councillors in the coming weeks. The area covering the Avondhu region, Fermoy Municipal District, will be briefed on the technicalities of the plan on Thursday.
Mr Lucey said the measures are designed to make places a safe place to do business post Covid-19 and will also help to revamp town centres to make them more attractive.
He has said that the Council will ring fence funding for major projects that have already been agreed with Government before the pandemic.
“We have been working across the organisation to put in place a programme of action and interventions which will ensure that our towns, villages and environs can reopen safely and with confidence, to give them the best chance of success as they emerge from this challenging period of poor trading or none,” the CEO said in his letter to councillors.
‘Direct & active leadership’ necessary
Mr Lucey added that the plan was centred around an action to promote the ‘reactivation of our local economy’.
He said that despite the lockdown and the dramatic change in business structures in the council, that all the sections of the council had continued to provide frontline services during the eight week shut down.
“Aside from having to cease all active construction projects, we have continued to advance our future work programme to the greatest extent possible, including continuing to tender for work and design and plan for future schemes, so that we are ready to maximise our contribution to society within whatever future fiscal space we will be required to work within.
“To date also, in navigating the challenges that presented as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, we have shown beyond doubt that a high degree of resilience and success is achievable when we work in partnership with our communities.”
Mr Lucey said that this partnership model had been shown clearly with the success of the Council’s Community Support Programme during the crisis.
“In keeping with this approach and the national Roadmap, Cork County Council now wishes to work proactively with business, retail, community and event organising sectors in each town, to plan for and work collaboratively on reactivating local economic activity and building resilience and confidence in our future.”
He explained that the council will take a ‘direct and active leadership role’ in bringing about the rescue of Cork’s ailing economy.
The strategy outlines that the council plan will continue its ‘focused implementation of our planned infrastructure investment programme’ which is supported directly by Government. He said that work will be a ‘confidence building measure’ for the community.
The Council will also continue with its Social Sustainability Investment Programme which will be part funded by a loan already secured from the European Investment Bank.
The council also received funding for this from the Council of Europe Development Bank during the crisis.
There will be a focused programme of measures at supporting small businesses which includes reopening grants and other financial incentives.
The fourth part of the plan is a concerted campaign of ‘refreshing the appearance of our main towns’. Mr Lucey said this will build confidence.
“It is critical that areas are made more attractive and user friendly in the present circumstances for users of our outdoor town centre public realm and spaces,” he explained.
The fifth part of the strategy will see a focus on the 23 main towns and a collaborative plan to help business as part of the Town Team Movement.
Finally, item six on the plan is a ‘commitment to work with all community groups and event organisers’ who have sought funding through various grant schemes.
Mr Lucey also addressed the possibility of suspending pay parking in the Council area – he cautioned against this as parking generates an income of €1.3 million.
“The above presents the framework for an ambitious and proactive programme of work specifically focused on our local economy over the coming weeks and months.
“We will take an active leadership role in doing all we can, within our remit and resources, to facilitate the re-emergence of our strong local communities and economy.”