What's Happening with Louth's Economy?
A good indicator of what’s happening in a County economy, is how much money the Local Authority collect in commercial rates. Generally, the higher the value the more economic activity.
From 2013 to 2017 revenue received by Louth County Council (as per their audited accounts) in commercial rates dropped from €33.4M to €31.8M, a 4.7% decline over the 5 year period. This would suggest that the County is losing out on attracting commercial businesses, and some existing businesses are struggling, in decline or closing.
The numbers pose a lot of questions, considering the Irish economy in the intervening 5 years was booming, with GDP growing at an average annual rate 9.7%.
Given Drogheda’s proximity to Dublin, it should have been growing at annualised rates of at least 5- 7% per annum. Towns and villages like Naas, Maynooth, Navan, Dunboyne and Clonee are booming.
The stated policy of developing Drogheda as a “commuter town” in the Louth County Development Plan 2015 – 2021, will have very serious long term negative impacts on the local economy. The plan states:
While acknowledging Drogheda’s role as a commuter town, the Council is keen to support the policies and objectives of the Drogheda Borough Council Development Plan, particularly having regard to the objective of developing the town as a self-sustaining Primary Development Centre that will energise development within its own catchment.
The “commuter town” role means; build loads of houses and let them work in Dublin.
In Drogheda alone, 8,000 people get in a car, bus or train every morning and leave to work elsewhere in the country – mostly to Dublin. Here they work in organisations contributing to local taxes, not in their home towns but where they work, fuelling the Dublin economy even further.
Across the Boyne in County Meath, the picture is far rosier. In 2013, Meath County Council were collecting €8.0M (as per their audited accounts) less in commercial rates (€25.3M) than Louth. Fast forward 5 years and they have grown their rates collection by 34% to €34.0M.
There are big lessons to be learned here. As part of the LOVEDROGHEDA BID Working Group submission to the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the region, we have set out the case for the future development of Drogheda.
If Drogheda’s rate payers vote for the BID, we will work hard at ensuring any economic policies proposed have a real benefit, make sense for our town and create long term sustainable jobs.
We have a lot of work to do.