Dec 212011

It doesn’t matter, apparently, how many talented, creative, committed citizens come together to produce ideas for the rejuvenation of the planning-blighted Patrick Street area of Limerick.  The City Council has seen the future, and that future is Marks & Spencer.

What is this obsession?  Why can’t the council see beyond this one retail business?  Do they say prayers to Marks & Spencer?

O mighty, O merciful, All-seeing M&S, have pity upon us.

It’s pathetic.

In an act of magical thinking that would make Micawber blush, it seems that Limerick City Council, or the Corporation as we used to know it, has decided to stick its collective thumbs in its ears and shout nah-nah-nah-nah-nah I can’t hear you, when anyone points out, firstly that Marks & Spencer is just another retail chain that can decide to go wherever the hell it wants, secondly that nobody has any money to spend and thirdly that the last thing Limerick city centre needs is another giant supermarket taking all the business away from local small traders.

How do you create a thriving, buzzing, interesting heart in a city?  Is it by putting in one huge shop like a black hole sucking in all the money, or is it by encouraging a multiplicity of small, creative enterprises, involving the arts, technology, entertainment, heritage and education?  In other words, giving Limerick a good feel and a positive image.  Making the city live.

The answer is both simple and cynical: M&S will pay huge commercial rates, producing the money that pays for councillors to attend conferences and claim expenses.  Small traders just won’t come up with the kind of dosh our elected representatives need for their holidays.

It’s that simple.  M&S will mean money for councillors. Proper development for Limerick means that some councilors have no opportunity of going to conferences and getting drunk for free.

This is the reality.

According to the tired Corpo doctrine, the way to rejuvenate a city in an economic climate where nobody is spending anything in the shops is what?  That’s right —  shopping trolleys.

That’s bound to work, isn’t it?

As I’ve pointed out before, Limerick City Council has no heritage officer, no archaeologist, no conservation officer and no city architect.  In other words, it employs nobody with the specialised training to deal with this historic Georgian site.  Furthermore, nobody in LCC or anywhere else in Ireland has the training to deal with the challenge of rejuvenating a city during the worst economic depression this entire generation has ever known, which perhaps explains why they fall back on clichés and unfounded certainties.

Needless to mention, the elected representatives have nothing to offer, and never will until they evolve opposable thumbs, but perhaps it’s still not too late for the real management to wake up and realise that there are other ways to turn a city around.   Heaven forbid that they might ever listen to the creative, concerned citizens who care so passionately about their home.  Would that be too much to ask?

Based on the past behaviour of certain officials, I very much fear that the concerns of people who have the city’s interests at heart are very low down their list of priorities, and certainly far behind the priority of placating councillors who wish to tell their voters some half-digested, populist nonsense.  (With one eye, of course, on the available funds for conferences involving expenses and getting drunk with the lads.  Small shops won’t cough up that sort of cash, but Marks & Spencer certainly will.)

So much for responsible planning.



O Glorious, O Mighty, O Everlasting, even unto the Holy Sell-By Date, Marks & Spencer

Save Us.

All powerful, all knowing, all seeing, all fillet steak now 50% off,

Have mercy on us.

O Star of the Market, O Lord of the Rings O Top of the Pops

Slash prices for us.

  42 Responses to “Limerick City Council Prays to Marks & Spencer”

Comments (42)

    I wonder how many brown envelopes are being passed around?

    I’ve never bought anything in M&S and as far as I know I never will.


    There are no brown envelopes. It’s much more subtle. M&S will generate the rates revenue to keep the gravy train running. Small traders won’t.

    That’s it in a nutshell.


    Your simple and cynical answer, unfortunately, is correct.
    They are greedy scheming scuts and clever with it.

    Their abilities stretch only to displaying a talent that can be (if looked at closely) akin to the that of our pan-cake makers.

    Tossers :-|


    Spot on bock as ever.


    Those fouquors were going to be the anchor tenant in the George Development, but they backed out when the management refused to give them the premises FREE! I guess that meant no rates and no rent! The other poor bastards who were to take up shops in the development would have to carry them! It’s all about footfall and say what you like about M&S..they will generate footfall! Its a shame, but the reality is that somebody like M & S is needed to get the punters back into the city and away from the Donut effect of the Crescent and Childers road!…and the Groudy eyesore!


    The doughnut effect is a scare-mongering mantra used by major chains to frighten ignorant councillors, and God knows, they are ignorant. There’s no reason why a city centre shouldn’t be used for one sort of enterprise and the periphery for another.


    The Georgian heart of the City continues to deteriorate and is littered with examples of poor replacements for those magnificent Georgian buildings ( Take a look at the building GameStop occupies on William st). I suppose its a sign of the fact that the Council has no conservation staff or no apparent interest in conservation. I think M & S would probably bring footfall to the centre and will be an enhancement to the City but will hardly be the Savior of the City. Take a look at this a lot of it could be applied to Limerick.


    It’s depressing :( Not M&S please!! They could do something so wonderful with that site. Sandwiched between the Milk Market and the Medieval Quarter, it could really bring a beating heart to the city if it’s maximized.

    The thoughts of yet another British chain store is too much to take. Sell outs.


    Don’t take my word for it. Ask them if this is their policy. Perhaps they’ll tell you I’m wrong about this, and if they do, I’ll celebrate the fact.


    I suppose that something like the english market in cork would be out of the question then?


    “Is it by putting in one huge shop like a black hole sucking in all the money”

    Generating money and people, where there not very many, there would be a fight to be located next to M & S, there will be some spin off.

    “M&S will pay huge commercial rates”

    Who else is going to pay for the rates in the new multi million euro development ?

    In one breath you argue they would generate rates (which will, and should not be squandered), and that they will bring people back to the City, and in the same breath argue this would be bad ? I’m confused

    Some guy selling trousers and jumpers he has made from Hemp grown in his back garden is not going to pay for the multi million Euro refurbishment of this site.

    The cheek of M & S looking to expand into Limerick, with their well made and well priced goods, and their huge demand, which will bring people to this White elephant at the wrong side of the City with Limited parking.

    Is their a local or national supplier who could achieve the same or should the site be allowed to rot, or wait till Hemp man, goes global, or the laws of supply and demand are changed, and he can afford the refurbished prices and rates.

    Maybe the local suppliers should up their game and get competitve, and add in some quality and service.


    Sounds like the usual depressing reality.

    As regards rejeuvinating, about 10 years ago a landscape architect (Nicolas de Jong) from Holland was hired by the ‘corporation’ to do a masterplan for the city. Good idea but as you have said, you also need small shops, cafes etc to create a vibrant atmosphere.

    Large megashops have been shown (in the UK and Europe they are rethinking the large megastores)to suck the life from cities and suburbs. M and S should be given a rude two fingers and some other way of financing the junkets should be considered or ………….how about no junkets and just get on with the job of improving the city.

    Aw right sham.


    Reality is definetly involved, don’t know how it’s depressing, wouldn’t a vacant site, as we have be more depressing ?

    Yes to no Junkets, but that’s another days work.

    Most Councils in the UK would also give their eye teeth for an M & S, as would other retailers, because people like what they do and they do it well, which tends to spill down to other retailers. Retailers follow their success, their would be no shortagem of other retailers anywhere if they were the anchor tenants. Isn’t that what the council are trying to achieve.?

    That seems to be what the majority of the shopping public like as well ?

    Am I missing something ?

    Big popular, successful global retailer might come to Limerick, and invest in premises, bringing jobs and life back to the devastated City Centre. ?

    Maybe what Limerick needs is another poor imitation of M & S ?


    I think you are missing something, Lab Rat.

    It is incredibly simplistic to think that attracting a Marks & Spencers will have a wholescale posistive impact on the city. It really is. It may bring some benefits, but they would be fairly short-term and limited. The site (formerly known as the Opera Centre) could be used to very radically and positively change Limerick City (economically as well as socially), but unfortunately that potential does not seem to be recognised by the wider public, and certainly not by most of those who make the important decisions for Limerick City (i.e. the senior council officals).


    Why would the potential your hinting at, not be recognised by the wider public ? What exactly is that potential and how would it pay it’s way ?

    I’m not saying it would have a wholescale positive impact on the City centre, but it wouldn’t have a negative effect. Much more needs to be improved. And the Mary Portas report has a lot of good ideas, as mentioned above they could be tried in Limerick

    If this development, whatever it ends up being called has to go ahead, then M & S would have a positive impact, and there is nothing to suggest this would be short term. At the very least it would give the enterprise a fighting chance over Mr Hemp Trousers & son.

    I agree with what you were saying previously about the City, I think if M & S knew the City better they wouldn’t bother with the Opera Centre, and go further out, with an outlet, but if they can be tricked into this venture then they have the experience and track record to make the best of a bad lot, and they are popular.

    Popular – Check
    Good value – Check
    Good pricing – Check
    Succesful – Check
    Not Tesco -Check
    Good track record – check
    Nice bit of cheese, wine and TV dinners

    Whats not to like ?


    Lab Rat — You must have been reading a different post on a different Bock the Robber site. I’m not saying M&S are bad. I’m saying we need more imaginative thinking. The assumption that a huge retail outlet will rejuvenate Limerick city centre is simply crass. Worse, it’s lazy thinking. There’s more to society than shopping, and anyway people have no money to spend.

    What’s very disheartening is that the city council seems to have made up its mind without consulting widely, as it should.

    Our public bodies will have to try harder.


    In this Universe & reality I was mainly asking who else is going to step in and do the same job it’s not lazy thinking it’s fiscal and commercial reality.

    It’s anything but crass, it’s…… realistic. What other entity is going to pay it’s way ? Was there any realsitic, ground breaking ideas from the meeting on the 19th, or was it mostly Mr Hemp trousers & son ?

    Also in the same Universe I was still thinking the whole Opera venture is still a bad idea even for M & S.

    Somebody has money, and they are queing for 2 days to get into that other Crass outlet the Crescent. I’m no fan of the City Council but they seem to be listening to the needs of the majority of the people. All the donut sites are busy, not my cup of tea, but populated.


    Go easy on the hemp trousers bullshit. It doesn’t reflect well on you. The meeting was attended by a wide variety of concerned citizens. Don’t disrespect them.


    And the outcome, or alternative way forward was ?

    I’m not direspecting anyone, the reference is a humerous catch all decription of craft traders.

    I’m genuinely intrested in this, but I fear if the concerned citizens don’t have a realistic suggestion they are wasting their time.

    Haven’t heard anything that will pay the rent so far, and at the end of the day thats what will do the talking.

    If you are not saying “M & S bad” there are a few other posters who did and I replied to all the posts not specifically to you. I did ask the question about how them solving the problem, by generating money and foot fall was bad ? And if not them, because that was lazy thinking then who ? or what ?


    What made you think the meeting was composed of craft traders?


    I never said that, nor did I think that, I was referring to the strongest proposal put forward on this and other threads, that the Opera centre could be successfully handed over to craft traders, and would some how inexplicably turn a buck.

    There is probably a place for that but not without those evil Crass mega traders from the UK.

    I didn’t comment on the meeting attendees.


    “Somebody has money, and they are queing for 2 days to get into that other Crass outlet the Crescent.”
    I got in there this morning in about five mins. Someone pulled out of a nice handy spot by the entrance that I was using. Was in and out of there in a half hour. Wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.

    There’s enough super market chains around in my opinion.
    I think a city centre should be filled with quaint cafes, small traders – specialised shops, bookstores, art galleries, antique stores, theatres.. that sort of thing.
    There’s nothing special or imaginative about an M&S.
    We’ve enough Dunnes and Aldi and Lidls around as it is shur.
    Or are they supposed to be a bit posher or something?
    I certainly wouldn’t go driving into the city to get any messages.. M & S or not.


    “I’m not direspecting anyone, the reference is a humerous catch all decription of craft traders”


    How’s about I knit you a pair of nettle underpants and you can do a verse or two of the riverdance in your narrow universe and reality.


    Yeah their Posher thats what does it. They sell posher messages

    There won’t be book shops anywhere never mind beside quaint cafes. It’s a nice image, but it’s not realistic, least of all during a recession.

    “specialised shops”, wasn’t me that said it.

    I live near the Crescent, and they have been queing all week from the turn off from the M20, and all around it has been busy. I had to go in there at 12 to pick up the kids from the Cinema and couldn’t get a space. It is quiet about 9am – 10.30am before you can buy drink in Tesco.


    Is the nettle underpants outlet one of the shops your proposing LJS.

    Would I not be doing a dance or 2, rather then a verse. How does that Riverdance song go ?

    I think it’s funny you think I have narrow Universe and reality. Have you read any of the posts above ?


    “They sell posher messages” They do! How posh are the messages now?
    Are they the crowd that do all that fancy smancy food ads on the telly? With your ‘have an M&S Christmas’ with your Jamie Oliver spuds?

    By specialised shops I meant independent shops, rather than chain stores/franchises. It’s a bit self defeating to say it won’t happen LabRat.

    Traffic is just as bad in the city this time of year too ya know.
    I don’t think the big chain stores add any character to a city myself – in my universe like. :)


    Lab Rat — How about freeing your mind from the idea that everything is shopping?


    Council/Corpo ? like a new Raleigh bicycle, up against the wall….Gone ! Happy Xmas all and luv ur site..Main-Man .


    Edit’s Still unavailable eh ?…for the record the ‘Main Man’ bit was blitzed , ah Vell .


    My mind is free, rarely go shopping, it’s the consumers of Limerick you have to convince, you can find them parked up round the Crescent, the Parkway, Childers Road, etc.

    And those bastard Lanldords ask them to free up their minds, and give up those crazy notions of getting a return on their investment, if you manage that I’m onboard 100%

    Anyway, I assume there are no answers to the questions posed earlier, must have been a constructive meeting. (what is the alternative, that will make any money)

    Back to my nettle underpants franchise idea, and a few verses of Riverdance before bedtime


    …oop’s and all de best for the new Year, eh !


    I’ve got editing issue’s…and I know it !


    What is this obsession with shopping?


    I get it, no realistic alternative suggestions people could get behind.

    As previously mentioned I don’t go shopping but it seems fairly popular as an activity to get people to go some place and spend money, in their cars.

    Would love to see some alternative ideas for Limerick, that would stack up financially. Nothing so far, who pays the piper, or is it some charitable venture your wishing for ?


    What I’m wishing for is constructive discussion. Are you against that?


    Not against that, my understanding of discussion appears to differ from yours though.

    Constructive would be lay out your money making alternatives.

    Instead we appear to have…….

    You say your piece, I disagree and question

    You ignore the questions, discussion is one sided drags on and peeters out.

    I’m sure their is another definition of discussion


    It’s not all about the money LabRat surely? Is that a song.
    Don’t wanna hear yar cha ching cha ching ba bling ba bling..

    What about a little culture and character? Is that what M&S can bring for us? I don’t think so.

    Lets see beyond the messages!



    the discussion is starting. We’re not suggesting that we have the answers yet, but we believe the thinking that says that Limerick City centre needs a Marks & Spencers in order to bring about its rejuvenation is woefully simplistic. The point of the discussion is to get beyond that thinking and figure out what the better ways to develop the site are. If you don’t think there are alternatives, fair enough. We beg to differ, and a process has started that will hopefully generate some imaginative ideas for developing the site. And yes, we are talking about ideas that are feasible, and that will ultimately bring about a better Limerick in both economic and social terms. You are welcome to get involved.


    I hear you Brian, however 38 posts later, can only hear suggestions that there might be alternatives, no actual take to the Bank / Investor suggestions.

    Surely the process needs to go back a step, having identified that the Council will make the decision. Why not get yourself some Councillors, or work on that, maybe you did but there seems to be a reluctance to give away any details, which will probably stifle any discussion.

    It’s not that I think there are no alternatives, nobody is bringing forward any, which would lead me to believe they don’t have any.

    The fundamental problem I have is that I think the site is wrong for what you are talking about, and nobody has argued the case otherwise. Even for other types of developments the Infra structure around this site will always be wrong.


    “Would I not be doing a dance or 2, rather then a verse. How does that Riverdance song go ”

    Jesus even my attempt at less then subtle humour has gone right over you head.
    You deserve a supermarket in your own front garden LabRat.


    No need to call me Jesus,

    The subtle humour must have been so subtle it went way over my head.

    Funny you should mention that, I have a supermarket in my front garden called the Crescent.


    @ Labrat,

    I don’t know what should go on the site. There are many possibilities. I do know that whatever goes there should be the result of a thorough consultation process with all the stakeholders involved and that this process should be driven by the desire to create the best long term solution for the whole of the city and region. That’s what we are trying to get going. Last Monday’s meeting was a very good start, but only a start, and hopefully we’ll move on from here.

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