Traders’ delight as tax reduced

by Gazette Reporter

BUSINESS owners in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown were jubilant last week as the council announced a reduction in charges on street furniture and sandwich boards outside businesses, following a campaign by a local trader in Glasthule.
The council’s adjustment of the fee came quick on the heels of an expose in last week’s Dun Laoghaire Gazette that featured Gerard Maguire, of 64 Wine, launching a vigorous social media campaign against the charges.
The fee to license advertisement structures on public roads was €125, and this has now been reduced to an overall annual fee of €50.
At the time, Maguire said: “I already pay €11,500 a year in rates as it is, and this would be an additional burden.”
A council spokesperson said: “In recognising the contribution of local businesses to the character and visual enhancement of the public space and streetscape, it is the intention of the council that a licenc fee of €50 will apply for all applicants for street furniture up to and including no more than two tables and a seating provision for up to four persons.
“A higher fee will be charged to businesses above this threshold, recognising that their core business activity is benefiting financially.
“Each licence application will be assessed by the area traffic engineer, taking account of the requirement for such items and suitability of the location, having consideration for the safety of pedestrians and other road users.”
Of the success of his campaign to get the fees significantly reduced, Maguire said: “It is very positive news obviously, but the best part was how easy and reasonable it was to deal with the council.
“It augurs well for the future when they [the council] consult with business in terms of initiatives to make more significant progress.
“My feeling is that there are two ways of thinking in the local authority – the first is to encourage local business, and the second is to tax. With this result, I’m hoping the more forward-thinking group are having more influence and see the benefits of working with local enterprise,” he said.
“People don’t realise how little it takes to put a surviving business out of business, and business in Glasthule is only surviving. It was thought that Dun Laoghaire businesses could afford more tax, so they kept pushing.
“No one [from the council] drops in to ask if there’s anything they can do to help trade. They [the council] operate at arm’s length, and with this latest tax they presumed we [in Glasthule] could afford to pay, but we couldn’t.
“This was the first time I saw how useful social media can be. If you have a valid cause that taps into people’s feelings, you can get a force going extremely quickly. The combined effect of print and social media was the key [to the campaign’s success],” said Maguire.
Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said the council had been sympathetic and responsive to Maguire’s campaign against the new charges.
He said: “Fair play to Gerry – he organised a very effective campaign against an excessive charge on street tables and chairs. He also mobilised other local traders, along with the help of The Dun Laoghaire Gazette, to lobby the council to change its stance on the street furniture tax.
“I am glad to say the council listened and took the right decision to support traders – it was the right thing to do,” said Cllr Boyhan.

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