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By Chamber Press Office, 10 October 2019
Dublin Chamber has issued a call for a Directly Elected Mayor for Dublin in a bid to tackle the region’s biggest issues, including housing and transport.
At Dublin Chamber’s sold-out Annual Dinner, which took place on Thursday evening in The Convention Centre Dublin, the Chamber’s President Niall Gibbons urged Government to create a new elected office that will have responsibility for the Dublin region.
The call comes on the back of a new Dublin Chamber report, launched today, which has identified 5 core areas that require urgent attention in order to make Dublin a better place in which to live, work, study, and visit.
Dublin Chamber’s ‘Dublin’s Global Reputation’ report - based on the responses of more than 5,500 people living in 10 countries overseas, as well as 1,000 international workers based in Dublin – is the latest instalment of the Chamber’s ‘Dublin 2050’ research project. The surveys were carried out on the Chamber’s behalf by Reputation Institute.
Dublin Needs Elected Mayor
Dublin Chamber’s Global Reputation report has identified the main areas that need to be improved in Dublin. These are: housing, transport and infrastructure; city aesthetic and public realm; safety; and marketing.
According to Dublin Chamber President Niall Gibbons: “Next year will see a Citizen’s Forum to discuss the possibility of introducing a directly elected Mayor for Dublin. Past efforts to introduce such a role have not been successful. Our focus in the business community is on the job as opposed to the title, and we need a champion for all of Dublin to tackle the priorities identified by our Reputation study.
“For the most part, the issues highlighted by internationals come as no surprise. The findings correlate with what Dubliners and people elsewhere in Ireland have told us about how Dublin needs to develop, and the challenges that need to be addressed, over the coming years and decades. With the problems clear to us, the focus must now switch to how we go about tackling them. The appointment of a Mayor with real powers is now essential to driving Dublin forward and equipping the capital to compete with the world’s best cities as a place to live, work, study, and do business.”
Housing & Transport Ranked Top Challenges
Unsurprisingly, Dublin’s housing problems were highlighted by both surveys. Notably, among internationals living in Dublin, the ‘availability and cost of housing’ was highlighted by 93% of respondents as a challenge. The cost of living was identified as the second biggest challenge (85%), followed by public transport (59%), health services (57%) and taxation (52%).
To address Dublin’s chronic housing shortage, Dublin Chamber is calling for the construction of at least 14,000 new homes in Dublin per annum – up from 7,000 currently - and an increase in the delivery of apartments to reflect smaller household demographics.
Mr Gibbons said: “Housing remains the biggest issue facing businesses in Dublin. There is little surprise that the lack of availability and affordability of housing in Dublin is an issue that is affecting the attractiveness of the city as a place to live and work. The current push to ramp up the delivery of new housing supply is welcome and this concerted effort needs to be maintained over the medium term to ensure that firms in Dublin are able to keep attracting and retaining top talent from abroad.”
On the transport front, the Chamber is calling for the delivery of the 19km MetroLink line between Swords and Dublin city centre; the roll-out of 2,400km of segregated cycle lanes; the delivery of 230km of bus priority lanes under BusConnects; and the construction of the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project to stop the Dublin region from running out of water.
Mr Gibbons said: “Commencing the MetroLink project will be a real statement of intent regarding our willingness to solve Dublin’s congestion woes. We also need a step-change in the delivery of short-term measures too, including improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure. Delivering more and better cycling facilities can have an immediate impact on commute times.”
Dublin Chamber’s Global Reputation report identified safety as a significant concern among internationals in Dublin. The Chamber said it was concerning that Dublin did not rank higher when it comes to offering a ‘safe environment for visitors and residents’. Amongst the 1,000 internationals surveyed, Dublin achieved only a moderate ranking. The Chamber said this was disappointing given that a city’s safety is now one of the most important factors considered by people looking to move abroad.
To improve perceptions of safety in Dublin, the Chamber is calling for an additional 750 Gardaí to be provided for the Dublin Metropolitan Region. The Chamber is also calling for a significant improvement to the public realm in Dublin in order to support increased safety and accessibility.
Mr Gibbons said: “The best cities in the world for quality of life all have public realm and pedestrian-first policies at their heart. Such an approach encourages life and vibrancy in the city environment. At a basic level, a city needs to be safe for all. In recent times, safety has risen to become a key driver of reputation internationally.”
The Chamber also says that a new marketing and communications strategy – which would be rolled out and overseen by the Directly Elected Mayor’s office - is required in order to fully showcase what the Dublin region has to offer, to both local and international audiences.
This call comes on the back of findings in the report which show a lower than expected international awareness that Dublin is home to the global and EMEA headquarters of many of the world’s biggest companies.
Mr Gibbons said: “This is because there is no one single body in Dublin that is responsible for managing the region’s reputation and promoting its strengths overseas. The successful cities of the future will be welcoming, creative and competitive, with strong and well-managed reputations. This is Dublin Chamber’s vision for Dublin is that it will be globally renowned both for economic competitiveness and quality of life. We will continue to work tirelessly to achieve this over the coming years.”