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North Tipperary County & Town Council Charges

Discussions by local centre Thurles traders, carrying the banner “Thurles Traders Unite,” who met with Thurles Town Council recently, to discuss more flexible regulations regarding parking restrictions, development charges, the cost of rates etc, ended up receiving a rather negative response. However, very soon it would appear, Thurles Town Council may have to revisit their recent ‘lack lustre,’ decision making.

Central Thurles

While many of the issues reported as put forward by “Thurles Traders Unite,” to our Town Council, have as yet not been decided on, the Irish Governments have started a welcome positive initiative to deliver a multi-annual Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at “making Ireland the best small country to do business with in Europe,” and demanding quarterly targets from each involved department.

Under this new quietly welcomed aim, an implementation group consisting of representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Forfás will be responsible for ensuring that these targets are met.

Following the publication of Action Plan for jobs, recently by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Employment Richard Bruton, North Tipperary Deputy Noel Coonan is now calling on North Tipperary County Council to “step up to the mark,” and reduce development charges for small businesses.

Noel Coonan TD believes job creation in the country must be kick started immediately and this requires Government and Local Authorities to work to achieve this aim. County and Town councils “must play their part in removing barriers to creating employment.”

Speaking to Thurles.Info today, Deputy Coonan said:

One of the biggest deterrents for businesses is development charges. These charges can cripple small businesses who are trying to establish themselves, expand or change the use of premises.   
Businesses are charged exorbitant rates by local authorities for parking spaces, yet the Council is already charging for parking in towns and receiving a substantial income from this charge. There is a real need for local authorities to reduce this charge considerably; this will keep town centres vibrant and encourage footfall in town centres. Land prices are falling and local authorities are paying less to provide car parking facilities in Town centres and this should be reflected in reduced charges for small businesses who are struggling to compete with multinationals. Construction costs have also dropped and we have an opportunity here to encourage rather than inhibit development.”

Deputy Coonan has recently been in contact with the Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan on this issue, whom the latter is reported as stating:-

My Department is preparing updated guidance for local authorities on the issue of development contributions, which will require local authorities, inter alia, to consider the impact of development contributions on businesses and competitiveness generally in the development of their schemes.  Authorities whose Development Contribution Schemes have come up for renewal since the announcement of the Government’s Jobs Initiative have been advised to consider providing reductions/exemptions in development contribution rates where such reductions/exemptions would help progress the Jobs Initiative.”

The Action Plan for jobs illustrates some determination in Government to tackle the jobs issue and to assist small businesses to generate employment. Indigenous businesses are at the core of job creation strategy. This plan appears to contain some real logical measures, which will help Irish small businesses access credit and generate employment.

Measures will include:-

  1. The establishment of a temporary partial loan guarantee which will help Irish businesses access credit.
  2. A micro finance loan fund to generate up to €100million which will benefit over 5,000 businesses over a ten year period.
  3. Provision of €60 million seed and venture capital funding for high growth Irish businesses, to be matched by the same amount in private sector funding.

Deputy Coonan went on to say:-

We are determined that these commitments will be adhered to rigorously. The Jobs Action Plan will be a rolling programme with strict delivery targets and systems to monitor implementation. Quarterly targets will be set, and delivery monitored.
The Action Plan for Jobs comes on foot of the report of the Advisory Group for Small Business which was presented to the Taoiseach last week by Minister for Small Business, John Perry. The report sets out the collective views of small businesses, based on the realities of what they experience on the ground and aims to assist businesses to promote enterprise growth and jobs. We need to be ambitious for the future and have set the target for job creation at 100,000 extra jobs by 2015. We remain committed to making Ireland the best small country in the world to do business.

Small towns like Thurles must now be visited and examined, in a bid to improve competitiveness, support start-up companies, develop employment initiatives and assist with business growth.  While Thurles businesses are fully aware that local revenue needs to be generated, the Thurles town centre would welcome Local Government Minister Phil Hogan to meet and examine this situation which currently exists in Thurles and other rural towns in Tipperary.

The situation presently exists where local small traders are indirectly subsidising large supermarket chains, like Aldi, Dunnes Stores and Lidl, while the issue remains ignored by local Urban and County Councils, latter badly in need of generated revenues.

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