Jackie Keogh reports on the reaction to Cork County Council’s controversial plan to charge hard-pressed firms that wish to put chairs and tables outside their business premises
CORK County Council is experiencing a backlash over its plans to charge businesses for the use of street furniture and advertising signs.
New laws could see some businesses charged €125 for every table used for al fresco dining.
Angry comments, many critical of the Council, and Government policy, have been posted on The Southern Star’s Facebook page following the publication of a report at a West Cork Municipal District meeting.
At that meeting, the councillors said they were aware that the policy – which is aimed at regulating the proliferation of advertising signs and the use of unlicensed street furniture – had been made law under the Planning and Development Act of 2000, but was only now being rolled out nationwide.
However, they argued that places like West Cork should be given special consideration and only charged a seasonal rate because the peak season is only about six weeks in duration.
A comment, opposing the roll-out of the law, that appeared on The Southern Star’s Facebook from Gary O’Regan, read: ‘They will be charging protection money next.’
Owen O’Mahony made his feelings clear: ‘ANOTHER TAX!!!!!’
Ken Looney said: ‘This is ridiculous. What next? Charging us for drinking coffee to go?’
Daniel O’Driscoll, described the new laws as ‘pure greed.’
He said: ‘Businesses depend on summer trade to keep them going for the winter and now authorities want to charge for people to sit outside. I’m disgusted with the new tax.’
Geoff Wycherley joined the debate, saying: ‘Is this not paid for already by high development charges and rates on existing and new businesses?’
Peter Hill took a more legalistic standpoint, asking: ‘Who owns the land that the furniture is on?’ While Margaret Coombes pointed out: ‘Down here outside seating was not for dealing with crowded premises. It is (for people) to enjoy the view (and) create a bit of street banter. You would have to sell sack loads of coffee to pay this latest bill. Hard working business people are already heavily burdened paying rates and providing vital employment. Why punish initiative?’
Sinead Logan took a similar stance, saying: ‘Turn the screws. Punish those working hard and supporting themselves. Typical.’
And you could hear the outrage in Patrick Dunne’s post, who said: ‘Why would anyone want to set up business in this country anymore, only to spend your life paying tax, VAT, rates, licences and accountants. Far too many monkeys on your back before you ever make a decent wage.’
Yvonne Kertsch held the same point of view. She said: ‘This country obstructs hard working self-employed people in any way possible while wrapping spongers in cotton wool. Disgusting.’
Emma Minicozzi wrote: ‘Ludicrous altogether … I will fully support businesses opposing this. They pay high rates as it is in West Cork.’
There are lots more comments about this issue on The Southern Star’s Facebook page – and more being added every day – but we end with Bertram Cowan, who summed up the majority of comments: ‘They seem to be doing everything possible to milk the small business and café owners dry. Careful bureaucrats that you don’t kill the goose laying the golden eggs.’