MEMBERS of the West Cork Municipal District are looking to ‘tweak’ national regulations governing the licensing of street furniture.
At a recent local authority meeting in Bantry, West Cork public representatives agreed that businesses will be charged for the use of street furniture, but they expressed the hope that the hard-pressed business community would be charged on a seasonal basis.
The Council members had already approved the Council’s draft policy on the licensing of street furniture – such as tables and chairs for al fresco dining – on the basis that they come under the Planning and Development Act of 2000 and are ‘law’ nationwide.
But Cllr Paul Hayes (SF), who is a member of the Council’s Tourism Strategic Policy Committee, or SPC for short, identified the need to ‘tweak it to make it relevant to our area.’
He suggested it would be unfair and unwise to charge business people €125 per table each year, especially if the tables are only used during the short summer season.
‘If you had to pay €125 per item you would end up with a big fee for the year,’ said Cllr Hayes, who spoke about the cost of other more expensive items, such as €1,250 for a hoarding, fence or scaffold, or €630 per annum for an advertisement structure – a fee that also applies to an advertisement consisting of any text, symbol, emblem, model, device or logo.
Under the terms of the regulations, he pointed out that the proposed €125 fee relates to ‘a case, rack, shelf, or other appliance, apparatus or structure for displaying articles, whether or not for the purpose of advertisement or sale in or in connection with any adjacent business premises.’
An engineer with Cork County Council said the legislation was actually implemented in 2001, but it is only now being rolled out nationally in a bid to deal with the proliferation of signs, and the use of unlicensed, or illegal, street furniture.
Mac Dara O h-Icí, a senior executive officer with Cork County Council, said businesses will have to apply to the local authority for a licence, and, if approved, pay the annual fee.
He also pointed out that some locations may not be suitable, even if business people are willing to pay the yearly fee.
Cllr Hayes said: ‘It is important to be cognisant of people with buggies and people in wheelchairs.’ And Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) agreed with his reservations saying: ‘One size does not fill all.’