Cork County Council is to look at negating increases in the so-called sunshine tax for businesses that put seating and billboards outside their premises to attract tourists.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said it was “unfortunate” that higher fees had been set at national level as therefore he had no choice under legislation but to implement the charges.
However, he said the council would examine a scheme to be supportive of such businesses and would work on finding a solution to this with the council’s tourism special purposes committee.
He made his comments after a number of councillors complained about the new taxes, most notably councillor Cathal Rasmussen, who said they would cripple some businesses in Cobh. Mr Rasmussen said the former town council charged annually €50 per premises which put out tables and chairs, and €10 for an advertising board.
However, the new charges are set at €125 per table and €635 for advertising boards.
“The increases are huge and causing much concern to many business people in all areas. How can a bureaucrat in Dublin decide that all businesses are equal irrespective of location, space outside the premises, and the number of tourists visiting the area?”
He said it was already hard enough for businesses to survive.
“Business people are rightly worried about this new cost plan and I feel that we as a council have a responsibility to support them, not to hinder them,” he said.
“It will cause huge issues for businesses, and will force many to stop putting tables out, which will have a huge knock-on effect on their trade, as part of the attraction in tourism towns is to sit out with a drink or a meal.”
Cllr Claire Cullinane, who also lives in Cobh, said it was vital that the local authority was seen to support the businesses which are paying substantial rates.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy said Cobh was totally reliant on tourism, having lost most of its heavy industry in recent years.
Youghal-based councillor, Aaron O’Sullivan, said businesses in small towns should be encouraged to put tables and chairs outside.
“We’re trying to promote our county as a food county and this doesn’t help,” said Cllr Gillian Coughlan, while Cllr Michael Hegarty said the charges were excessive considering there were only a couple of months in the year people could sit outside.
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