BIG READ: 'There won't be anywhere to get a drink,' rates in Carlow spark heated debate

Council chief executive says some businesses did see 'significant increases' in rates

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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Carlow County Council offices on the Athy Road

"There needs to be something done for smaller businesses," said a councillor after commercial rates sparked a heated debate at this month's meeting of Carlow County Council.

Cllr Willie Quinn tabled a motion with regard to any future negotiations with the Government regarding the rates charged in Carlow.

His motion stated: "I am requesting that an amendment be put in place that takes into account small businesses and part time businesses that are not open on a full-time basis (i.e. rural pubs and shops) that a special rate be put in place to help these business stay open.

"At present we give out start-up grants for new business while on the other hand we are shutting down businesses that have provided a very much needed service for many generations for rural Carlow.

"This does not make sense to have a rates hike of between 5 and 10 times previous valuations."

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Willie Quinn said there "needs to be something done for smaller businesses". Meanwhile Cllr Michael Doran said it was "worth noting that we haven't raised rates". 

The motion was seconded by Cllr Will Paton who also said: "Post Offices and businesses are closing down because people aren't using them. If you want to save your local convenience store...use it.

Chief executive of the Council, Kathleen Holohan, said there were "two issues being mixed up" as rates had not been increased by the Council in ten years. 

Ms Holohan said the abolition of the Town Council required a harmonisation in rates by law and the revaluation was carried out by the State's Valuations Office, not the local authority.

The Valuation Office say the purpose of the revaluation was not to increase commercial rates income but to distribute it more equitably.

Ms Holohan admitted that "some businesses have seen significant increases because of the revaluation carried out on foot of legislation". 

Cllr Quinn said he was not pointing the finger at the Council but said with the current rates being charged "there won't be anywhere to get a drink". 

"If a person wants a drink in a rural area they'll have to go to Bagenalstown, Carlow Town or Tullow." 

In response to the motion, Ms Holohan said the proposal would "require an amendment to legislation" and "that is not something we can do".