“Where are these jobs and when are they coming?”
That’s the concern from one local councillor after the latest update on Kilkenny’s Abbey Quarter Project.
Pat Fitzpatrick questioned how much employment it will create after yesterday’s meeting of the local authority heard how the development is coming along.
He says the Council told them when the project first began that it would provide 500 new jobs, but he’s no longer certain of this, telling KCLR News “At that time there was concern that they be 500 new jobs, and I want to specify new jobs, for Kilkenny a lot of people have been asking me out there to know when are these jobs coming, when are they happening, so I got the report today, I got the update from the Executive but it’s not very clear if they’re actually going to be 500 actual new jobs or if there are some of the jobs in Kilkenny already coz people have moved to Kilkenny, have set up in Kilkenny and they may now be moving into the Abbey Quarter when that happens”.
He adds the project needs to pick up pace in gaining future clients, saying “I would have felt that we should have been getting some sort of an announcement with maybe the signing of some contracts or an indication of particularly businesses that were moving to the Abbey Quarter when it would be completed and that did disappoint me, I would like to be getting them indications and I suppose the message going back to the Executive and to the company is that we’d like to see it moving on and moving on at a greater pace now”.
And the Fianna Fáil representative was also hoping for a further specific update, noting “I also want to know is this going to be third level facility as well, is that going to be positioned on the Abbey Quarter now that Waterford and Carlow are working together and hopefully we will see a campus in Kilkenny, I’m not sure whether it’ll be the Brewery site or where that campus will be but I really hope we see a campus or an announcement of some sorts in the coming months ahead”.
Over €7.6 million euro has been spent by the county council so far on the Abbey Quarter.
And, despite reassurances from their Chief Executive, a number of councillors questioned the need for the multi-million euro office space given the recent shift towards working from home.
Cllr Eugene Mc Guinness says “I think that the Abbey Quarter is a great asset to Kilkenny, there’s no doubt about that but there are worrying aspects of it, if you’re asking me the direct question do I think it’s worthwhile, yes it’s worthwhile if it works and it’s the method of that working that I have a problem with, they seem confident that they can do it, they seem confident that it will take off, I sincerely hope that they’re right but I will absolutely most definitely be watching this progress for the next few months”.
He adds “I quite clearly sat through the whole broadband issue and I had questions about that and there is a new emphasis now working from home and because we have that office space, I listened to the debate today about you know well working from home may mean working from a central office now I don’t buy into that I think we have some difficulty there in trying to sell office space when Covid is over and done with, I think people have got used to working from home and I think companies have cut their costs as a consequence and I think I asked legitimate questions about that”.
And the independent representative also points out “I reflect what the people on the street ask and the questions they want me to ask and the concerns I have as I said today was we seem to inflate one tyre to deflate another as in are we going to have shops down there, are we going to have retail business and if that be the case is that going to put another business in trouble and these are the concerns I have”.
Stay tuned to KCLR for more on this across the day.