The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD has just announced the first towns and villages to benefit from the new July Stimulus Package of COVID-19 supports.
The fact that Castleisland got €25,000 and is among those included the first tranche of the support scheme has been welcomed locally by: Cllr. Bobby O’Connell, (FG); Kerry Green Party representative, Cleo Murphy and by Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae, Independent – in that order.
July Stimulus Package in August
A total of 106 towns and villages will benefit immediately from €2.8 million in funding to help communities to shop, socialise and work safely in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The July Stimulus Package includes and additional €10m for towns and villages, €5 million for upgrading and improving community centres and €2 million extra to support the islands.
Minister Humphreys announced the first €2.8 million in funding approvals from her department to help rural towns and villages to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First Tranche of Funding
This first tranche of funding, under the enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme, recognises the need to support rural businesses and communities to rebuild in response to practical examples for which the funding will be used.
These include: Widening walkways and footpaths to provide seating for shoppers; Providing sheltered areas outside local amenities; Enhancements to community centres to allow for remote working; Adapting community spaces, playgrounds and other outdoor areas for social distancing and supporting the establishment of ‘Cycle Cafes.’
Footfall in Rural Towns and Villages
After the launch today Minister Humphreys said that it is vitally important footfall in rural towns and villages is increased by supporting them to adapt to this ‘new normal’ as a result of COVID-19.
“This funding will benefit communities by altering the streetscapes so that people can shop, work and socialise safely,” she continued.
“I have increased the funding for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme as part of the €17 million rural package that my Department secured under the July Jobs Stimulus. This means that even more towns and villages will benefit from supports.”
Creative and Innovative Proposals
Minister Humphreys continued: “Local Authorities throughout the country have been developing creative and innovative proposals to increase footfall and assist businesses in our rural towns and villages.
This tranche of funding announced today is part of an enhanced €25 million Town and Village Scheme which will continue to rejuvenate rural communities across Ireland.
Further approvals under this hugely popular scheme will follow in a series of funding rounds that will be announced in the coming weeks. I expect that up to 500 towns and villages will be supported this year under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.”
Cllr. O’Connell’s Welcome for Funding
Cllr. Bobby O’Connell was the first out of traps with the announcement from his party colleague.
“It is great to see Castleisland getting this kind of a break and especially after the past five months with nothing doing anywhere around.
“The €25,000 will make a huge difference to the appearance of the streetscape and make it more welcoming for locals and visitors,” said Cllr. O’Connell.
Green Party Welcomes Street Enhancements
Reacting to the proposed and financially supported enhancements to Castleisland, Cleo Murphy of the Kerry branch of the Green Party said that the provision of outdoor seating, bike stands and movable plant displays in the town has to be welcomed.
“Making the outdoor areas of our towns and villages more accessible is essential for the way we will live with Covid-19,” says Ms. Murphy, the party’s candidate in the last general election.
“We will want to meet outdoors to socialise, so having attractive seating and plant displays in the public realm will increase the footfall in our town centres.
“We’re all cycling more,” observes Ms. Murphy. “When a town provides bike stands it signals a welcome to cyclists and makes it easier for them to park. Imagine how we could ease the parking and traffic issues in our towns and villages if more of us took to the bike. It would also improve our health and reduce the pollution that affects our respiratory health.
“It’s great to see Castleisland included as one of the first towns to benefit from this funding,” Ms. Murphy concluded.
Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae ‘Delighted’
“I am delighted to see that Castleisland has been awarded €25,000 in funding through the Town and Village Covid Support Scheme,” said Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae in response to the announcement by Minister Humphreys.
“This money is for provision of outdoor seating, bike stands and moveable plant displays.
“I look forward to our municipal staff getting down to implementing the intentions of this money around the town and thank them for their work in securing this grant for the town.”