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.
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
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.