Waterford retail workers fear job losses due to planning dispute

The protest came as the director of Homesavers launched a personal appeal to the local council's chief executive to allow the store to continue trading.
Waterford retail workers fear job losses due to planning dispute

Homesavers workers protest outside council offices in Dungarvan

Staff at a retail chain in Waterford have mounted a protest amid fears they will lose their jobs over a planning dispute.

The protest came as the director of Homesavers launched a personal appeal to the local council's chief executive to allow the store to continue trading.

127 workers have been placed on protective notice by Homesavers after Waterford City and County Council won an injunction against the retailer last week. It sought the injunction claiming Homesavers is operating three new stores without planning permission.

Workers at Homesavers in Dungarvan staged a socially distanced demonstration outside the council offices in the town today.

Mark Kett, one of the staff on protective notice, said they had only been hired in recent weeks. "We took these jobs on hoping to have money in our pocket for Christmas and to pay the mortgage. We want these jobs and we're hoping we can get answers on what's going to happen."

The other two stores are located in Tramore and at Kingsmeadow, Waterford City. A fourth store which is not part of the proceedings trades in Ballybricken in the city, with several other stores operating around the country.

Meanwhile, the director of Centz Retail Holdings Ltd, which trades as Homesavers, has written personally to the council's chief executive appealing to be allowed to operate the stores.

Naeem Maniar said the injunction is "drastic and draconian" but, if allowed to trade, the four stores would benefit the council to the tune of €100,000 in commercial rates annually adding up to €2million over the 20-year lease. An advance payment of rates for 2021 plus a levy as part of a "reasonable bargain for a positive outcome" is also proposed by Mr Manier.

Waterford Council did not address Mr Maniar's letter when contacted. In a statement, it claimed that the stores opened "without any prior consultation" and that they constituted a "significant change in use" for each of the three properties.

A spokeswoman added that the injunction was pursued to ensure adherence to proper planning and to protect the viability of the city and town centres.

The High Court case was adjourned to next month.

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