Traders say new lay-out of town square has been bad for business

Padraig Muldoon, Greg Glancy and Ray Gannon pictured on the new-look Square in Roscommon town last Saturday morning.

A number of well-known Roscommon traders have voiced their concerns this week over the county town’s new-look Square, claiming the removal of parking spaces and loading areas has had a negative impact on business.

Greg Glancy of Glancy’s Fruit and Veg says a narrower Main Street has made deliveries difficult.

“I have been working in this town for 40-odd years and I’ve never had a problem before…now though there are huge problems – it’s a joke!

“We are forced to break the law every time we deliver to businesses in the town by parking on double yellow lines. If we pull in on the Main Street like we used to do then we block up the whole town,” he said.

Mr. Glancy believes more space should be given to loading bays in order to prevent illegal parking and traffic congestion.

Local businessman Ray Gannon of Gannon’s Farm Shop said that while the Square was a welcome addition for outdoor dining, leaving it closed to vehicles (thus far) has created problems for some businesses.

Street trader Colm Lennon pictured on Main Street in Roscommon town last Friday.

“By leaving it closed you are creating that handicap with regards to deliveries. You have the likes of ourselves who rely on people coming in and out for a quick few bits and pieces. It’s difficult to trade in that respect,” he said.

“Roscommon is a beautiful town to come to, and it has been a very good market town, but like any town it’s changing and people have to readjust,” he said.

Mr. Gannon added that many towns were redeveloping in a similar way but that for Roscommon, the transformation may have come too early, resulting in a hit to small local businesses.

“Roscommon needs more tourist attractions for it to become a destination town for people to visit and enjoy the likes of the new Square …then perhaps businesses can recreate themselves and divert into new horizons,” he said.

On-street traders have also been impacted by the new Square with local fruit and vegetable sellers critical of the lay-out.

Colm Lennon said finding a spot for his lorry on Main Street has become a major issue every Friday and Saturday.

“There is no parking left anymore…years ago customers could pull in alongside us here on Main Street and pick up their bits and pieces. The atmosphere is gone now on a Friday and Saturday because there’s less footfall,” he said.

“Covid had an impact too but the last year especially since this (redevelopment) started up, trade has suffered big time. It’s become a ‘drive-thru town’. They should have left some part of the Square open to parking, either the far side of the bank (Bank of Ireland) or the near side,” he said.

Colm said he has now been forced to park his lorry on the footpath due to the lack of designated trader spaces on Main Street. He also claims that Roscommon County Council never approached traders to seek their opinion.

“The Council has never come to me and asked me how business was going. They never came to any of us,” he said.

“We knew it was going ahead but we didn’t think it would be like this…now business is suffering big time”.

Fellow trader, Padraig Muldoon, said his family have been trading on Main Street since his great-grandfather’s time.

“Trade-wise it’s gone very quiet and we are down in income. They’ve done a fine job (on the Square) but it’s gone to the stage where the older people are too afraid to come to us for the likes of 5 and 10kg bags of potatoes because it’s too far to walk back to the car parks,” he said.

“The other problem I have here some Fridays and Saturdays is that there might be someone parked in my spot. Even though we pay a licence for the area it’s not held distinctly for us…there are no markings on the streets. If there was some way of recognising our area it would be beneficial to us”.

As for a possible solution to the current problems posed by Roscommon’s Public Realm Enhancement, Padraig believes reopening part of the Square to traffic is the only way forward (as the Council has pledged to do).

“I want to be able to have cars pull up beside me so any bags they need they can get. Before this there used to be plenty of space to double-park alongside me but that has been stopped,” he said.

“They only way we might be able to do that again is if people are able to pull in there between ETL and Gleeson’s and then drive out the other side”.