The Green Party is calling on the Government to increase funding to all Local Authorities in the State to be used for a targeted campaign towards urban regeneration.
The Greens are seeking an increase in the ‘block grant’ allocated towards local authorities each year to be ringfenced specifically towards heritage led urban regeneration, town centre living and innovation in retail and building use.
The EU average spend of public monies through Local Government is 23%. In Ireland it stands at 8%. It is our view that a comprehensive targeted and outcomes focused policy towards urban regeneration such as Scotland’s ‘Town Centre First’ programme could deliver significant results here’ Cllr Malcolm Noonan
Party claims current approach is piecemeal and not achieving anything of scale
As Local Authorities across the State decide on varying the Local Property Tax (LPT), Green Party Spokesperson for Community Development and Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that the LPT was a crude and unbalanced means of funding local services and that Irish public spending through local authorities was among the lowest in the EU.
‘We would like to see a much more targeted approach to town centre regeneration; Business Improvement Districts, addressing urban living, activating start up and incubator units in town centres, mobility and transitioning our town centres towards a low carbon economy. We have very little wriggle room within the existing financing of local government and schemes such as town and village renewal are piecemeal and not focused on community led actions’ Cllr Malcolm Noonan
He said that the evaluation of the Local Property Tax will prove geographically challenging given the variance across all local authorities and that future Governments needed to focus on broadening the income stream for councils and that this should include an incremental increase in the block grant towards the European average, coupled with increased devolution of powers to Local Authorities.
‘Many of our regional towns are in a state of stagnation and decline. Yet templates exist to lead a sustained and creative programme of regeneration; much of which could be supported by organisations such as the Heritage Council’. Cllr Malcolm Noonan
The Scottish Town Centres First model could well be replicated here but it will require resources and we are asking the Government to consider a Town Centre Fund ringfenced in grant form to all councils commensurate with need, population and ability to deliver. Coupled with this we would advocate the establishment of an EU Unit in every local authority to help source match fund and to learn through urban networks from urban centres across Europe.
‘Our town centres have a vital role to play in transitioning towards a zero carbon economy; they are also places of social exchange that should be vibrant and alive. Current policy is failing and local government is best placed to lead and inspire transformation; all we need are the resources to do it’ concluded Cllr Noonan