Rates on vacant businesses continue to cripple local trade – Martin Lonergan

Cahir/Clonmel Local election candidate Martin Lonergan has said he will work vigorously to ensure that local businesses who continue to endure punitive levels of rates payments on vacant premises will have a strong voice on Tipperary County Council. Mr Lonergan was speaking after the matter was continuously raised at the local level as a source of deep concern to traders and business owners who must continue to pay heavy rates despite the semi or total closure of the business:


“It is a long time since January when the Seanad and Dáil amendments that Local authorities would have discretion to reduce or remove the rates they charge for vacant commercial premises was first discussed under the Local Government Reform Bill, as it was at the time.

Those amendments also spoke of the need to allow for an increase in time to harmonise the annual rate of valuation in a local authority area from 10 years to a maximum of 20 years, where a specific case is made to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government.


Yet although these matters were committed to by the Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan we have yet to see it working its way down to ground level from the lofty heights of his Department.


In light of that I would call on the Minister to re-commit to his pledge that local councillors should have full control over the setting of the annual rateable valuation as quickly as possible. What we desperately need on top of these important changes is a complete overhaul of the rates valuation system which has been completely regressive in terms of the efforts of business leaders to get back on their feet.


The valuation system and mechanism used are archaic to say the least and it also continues to create a situation where companies or businesses on the internet with no physical premises and therefore no obligation to pay commercial rates have an advantage over long established traders with a physical store.


The issue is one that needs much more of a hands on approach and that is certainly the manner in which I intend to approach it pre and post election time,” concluded Mr Lonergan.


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