Draft bylaws on casual trading in the St Peter’s Square, St Mary’s Square, and the Civic Square in Athlone are to be presented to councillors at their November meeting, according to town clerk John Walsh.
The news followed an appeal from independent councillor Sheila Buckley-Byrne that the council “put in place new bylaws to regulate market/casual traders and in particular to outline the temporary nature of traders”, citing the example of a trader whose van is permanently parked in St Peter’s Square.
“This van is not paying rates. Trading is unregulated and chaotic for smaller traders in the area. We need clear guidelines regarding the use of parking spaces and outlining the fact that it is temporary,” she said.
Cllr Buckley-Byrne was also keen that the detail of the bylaws include designating the town’s Civic Square a casual trading area. “If organised and structured, trading in the Civic Square would add to the ambience of the town. It will lend itself to the businesses already in the town,” she added.
Supporting the motion, Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran added that the new bylaws must ensure that the town’s traders who are paying commercial rates are protected. “What’s taking place in St Peter’s Square, Monday to Friday, is scandalous. It seems to be used now on Fridays for the distribution of goods to other vans,” he said.
Town clerk John Walsh assured councillors that the draft bylaws would include a section on the controls necessary to regulate casual trading in the town.
“In the absence of bylaws we have no control over casual trading and we don’t have the authority to move the van in St Peter’s Square at the moment. We have taken issue with the owner, and the bylaws will prevent the type of activity that is currently going on. We will also look at providing standard size stalls, particularly in front of the Civic Centre, which people can rent out. However, there will be no vehicles allowed in the Civic Square.”