Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

THE way in which submissions for grants are treated by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) have been criticised by a local councillor at a recent county council meeting, after a new group of 20 businesses were refused a grant.
€70,000 was made available for small business development in the county this year by the council’s Business Promotion initiative.
Councillor Lettie McCarthy (Lab) questioned the level of communication between the council and the business group over a refused application by a Stepaside business group.
She said: “I was disappointed to learn that the group from Stepaside didn’t receive any grants this year.  There are 20 businesses in the group, and this was the first time they applied.
“We should improve our communications as a council and the manager could have picked up a phone to clear things up.
“This is a new group coming together, and a little encouragement would go a long way, whether it was €1,000 or even €500 of a grant.
“New people are contacting us as a group of businesses together and, if we feel not enough information has been submitted and there is still time before the deadline, someone should ring them and ask for the information lacking in their application,” she said.
John McCluskey, who along with 19 other Stepaside businesses applied for the funding, said about the refusal: “I’m disappointed, but we did fill the form in at the last minute, so it was rushed; it’s probably our fault.
“We’ll just continue to plod away on our own path, and it’s not going to stop us from doing what we have planned, such as festivals in Stepaside.
“It’s just more bureaucracy – you have to go through hoops to get these grants, and they make it absolutely impossible because they’re all tied up in red tape.
“Yet, it was worth trying it but the refusal won’t stop us going ahead with our own thing,” said McClucksey.
In response, Richard Shakespeare, director of environment, DLRCC, said: “We held a series of workshops this year as the number of applications [for Business Promotion Grants] was slipping.  The workshops were open and everybody was invited.
“This [Stepaside group’s application] came in as a single individual shop owner. It made no attempt to tell us who was in the group and, as for there being 20 shops, if they even put that on the application form, it would have been something.”
Continuing with his response to Cllr McCarthy, he said: “I’m a busy man, councillor, and I’m not going to [chase] people when we’re actually giving money away.
“There is nothing to stop them [Stepaside group] picking up the phone to ask what level of detail is needed [in the application form]. It works both ways.”
Cllr McCarthy welcomed the open days held by the council ahead of the application process but suggested they be held in the evening, in future, as many small businesses had to close during the day for the owner to attend.
Other councillors, such as Victor Boyhan (Ind), questioned how any surplus money from the grants was used, and Shakespeare replied that last year’s surplus mainly went into the improvement of shop fronts in the county.
He went on to say that no surplus was expected to be left over from the fund this year.