Pardon the fishy pun, but I just couldn’t resist. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all.
In more good news the popular Farmer’s Market in Portlaoise is to remain in its new location at Lyster Square.
And one of the market stall holders is to be allowed to continue to sell fresh fish, despite objections from another retail outlet in the town.
The market has flourished since it moved to its new location some months ago on a trial basis, from its previous base in Market Square at the top of Main St.
However, it is proving far busier and viable in its new spot.
A report on the Casual Trading Bye-Laws which governs the operation of the market was presented by Ms Georgina Ireland to the councillors from the Portlaoise Municipal District setting out the new arrangements, designation and permit fees and conditions for the operation of the Farmer’s Market.
The local authority official outlined the requirement for the councillors to extinguish the previous bye-laws and to confirm the new ones confirming Lyster Square as the preferred new designated market area.
Ms Ireland told the meeting that once the new bye-laws were adopted they would become effective from January 1. She pointed out that three submissions had been received during the public consultation period regarding the new market location.
Two of the submissions were from the Downtown Portlaoise business association and the Laois Older People’s Forum. They were largely supportive of the new market but raised concerns about parking spaces and traffic management.
The meeting was told that all the traders in the market had to comply with the conditions of their permit and that they received no provision of parking spaces or an exemption from the parking laws.
The councillors were told that there was an objection from Daly’s Seafood shop, which is also based nearby in Lyster Square, to the presence of a fishmonger stall as it was adversely impacting on their business on Fridays.
Ms Georgina Ireland said they had taken this submission in to account but that it could not be their sole consideration as they also looked to the overall benefits of the market and the increased footfall in general.
A fishmonger, Jason Barron from Bates Seafood of Kilmore Quay has traded in the market each Friday for a number of years now.
Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley who proposed the adoption of the new casual trading bye-laws said that she was delighted with the new area and it was getting great feedback.
She herself goes there most Fridays and it’s fantastic. She acknowledged that it is causing some difficulties for Daly’s fish shop but that overall it enjoyed the support of the local traders. She looked forward to Lyster Square in general being made more pedestrian friendly.
Cllr Willie Aird seconded the new bye-laws and commended the hard work of Georgina Ireland and other local authority personnel in managing the relocation process.
He said that the market is a huge success and people had voted with their feet and business had quadrupled. He welcomed the pendulum swinging back in favour of organic and artisan produce and this was a huge boost for local producers.
He did however also acknowledge that the seafood shop was reporting business to be down by as much as 40% on Fridays, but added that the trend countrywide is in favour of such markets.
Cllr Aird also commented that the recent Christmas Market in Portlaoise had been a brilliant idea and illustrated that a pedestrianised Main Street could work well at particular times.