The decision by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to select a site for a Motorway Service Area on the M18 near Newmarket on Fergus is designed to suck local business from the Ennis Shannon commuter belt rather than service normal motorway traffic.
That’s according to William Cahir, the newly elected President of Ennis Chamber of Commerce who said it is an effort to persuade local people who travel on the commuter belt to shop, buy fuel and eat at the new facilities rather than use existing outlets in Ennis, Clarecastle, Newmarket on Fergus and Quin.
“10,000 vehicles per day travel on the Ennis to Shannon commuter belt. If a motorway service station captures this trade, this is business lost to Ennis and surrounding villages. Motorway service stations should be designed to serve people using the motorways and not positioned for the purpose of hoovering business from local communities,” said the Ennis solicitor.
Mr. Cahir said the new completion of the new motorway to Galway in 18 months time will bring opportunities and pose challenges. He said that the motorway can facilitate traffic and business into Ennis but it can also work in the opposite direction.
The new Chamber president argues that Ennis has excellent retail and professional services and in many respects can match and be better than Galway and Limerick. Ennis coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels are to the forefront in good food and hospitality.
“We may not always appreciate the quality businesses on our doorstep. I suppose my message is to banish negativity. Let’s get out there and promote Ennis as a town in which it is good to do business, a town which is attractive with good retail and hospitality facilities offering a warm welcome and good customer service. We are bigger than we think. Ennis has a population of 26,000 and is expected to grow to 50,000 by 2040. People will need places to live and work,” he added.