MORE than 50 city traders are set to form a new business association in response to growing frustrations about the state of city centre trade.
It is understood that the new representative group could launch as early as next week amid mounting disagreement between city traders and representative bodies regarding crucial city projects, such as the Morrison's Island flood defence plans, the removal of parking spaces and the introduction of car ban measures on Patrick Street.
A source close to the group confirmed to the Evening Echo that 'over 50 independent traders' had given their backing to the new group already.
It is understood that the committee driving the development are pitching their new entity as a 'more affordable' option for small traders and one that will reflect the complex and changing concerns of businesses in the city centre.
The decision to form a new representative group comes amid continued focus on the Patrick Street traffic changes.
It is now 90 days since the reintroduction of the controversial measures, with some traders claiming that it has contributed to a massive drop off in trade.
Others have claimed that the struggles of some retailers are unrelated to the traffic changes but are more dependent on the rise of online shopping and changing retail habits, as well as free parking at suburban shopping centres.
In recent days, the Cork Business Association (CBA) and Cork Chamber have introduced incentives to encourage shopping in the city centre. The CBA initiatives include a social media campaign to boost interest in city shopping, while Cork Chamber has backed the introduction of a Cork-specific gift card ahead of the Christmas shopping season.
These are in addition to Cork City Council's parking and park and ride incentives, which remain in place until the end of the month to encourage people into the city centre.