Youghal Chamber Of Commerce say investment is needed in hard infrastructure such as roads and broadband, if the town is to prosper in the new digital economy and attain its sustainable development goals.
A deputation from the business community told the Council Executive on Monday that they would like to see Youghal’s assets improved, and a bypass for Castlemartyr and Killeagh, to help lure foreign investors to the area.
A 24 hour Garda station for Youghal, a Primary Health Care facility and the expansion and development of Coláiste Eoin’s existing Adult Education Services were also part of the wish list for the harbour town.
The business body said a joint project between The Arts Council, The IDA and Enterprise Ireland could “animate many empty buildings with some high innovation industries, such as the gaming and entertainment sectors.”
Existing companies could also be encouraged to locate satellite operations to Youghal, taking advantage of lower site costs, lower wages and better quality of life.
They said “by creating more imagery, info-graphics, video content and case studies for Youghal the IDA could sell the town more efficiently to potential employers.”
The deputation said they appreciate the work which Cork County Council has done to bring Ironman to the area, the development of the eco boardwalk and the new Youghal main drainage scheme, but more is needed to attract small FDI companies to the area.
Business owner, Michael Farrell said “Youghal seems to be left behind when it comes to road infrastructure to the town.”
He said a block of toilets was also required for the town centre, as busloads of tourists have to make do with one solitary toilet, unless the Tourist Office is open.
Chamber member, Diarmuid Keogh said Youghal is now a known name in the activity sector throughout the year, “with hardened athletes fighting through endless waves, pounding the board walk and climbing awesome hills.”
However, Youghal’s beach facilities are “3rd world” and the current services are “completely unacceptable with seasoned visitors to Claycastle using the nearby Aura Centre instead.”
The business owners raised concern that part of Youghal’s beaches could be blown away, with a number of groynes almost completely gone and in need of replacing. They were originally built in the 1800s to trap and hold sand to combat erosion, many are decades old and have deteriorated, losing their effectiveness.
A Report commissioned by the Local Authority in 2008 recommended 5 concrete groynes be placed along the Front Strand to prevent long-shore drift.
Over the past number of years almost 7 feet of sand has been lost at Green-hole, a popular bathing area opposite the Walter Raleigh Hotel, with large sections of sand being lost from the Front Strand.
The Chamber said if action isn’t taken the town’s sea defences could be undermined by the sea, as beaches naturally break up the power of waves, warning that the loss of strands could have a detrimental effect on local tourism.
Responding to the Chambers’ concerns Cllr Michael Hegarty said “until the bypasses get addressed it is going to be very difficult to get foreign direct investment in Youghal.”
He said recently a number of foreign business owners were heading to Youghal on a Friday to consider it as a location to invest. However, they hit Friday afternoon traffic in Castlemartyr and had to turn back to catch their flight.
Cllr Noel Collins said the lack of toilet facilities should be addressed because the town is a popular tourist area.
Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey said Youghal Gárda station is a huge deficit to the town which has a population of over 9,000. A fulltime Gárda station is a no brainer, she said. Council Officials are to compile a report on issues raised by the Youghal Chamber.