Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rates, City Status & more

Dear Taoiseach,
I write on behalf of the retail community in Waterford City. There is currenty a rates re-evaluation under way here and the increases in rates that many in the small business community in particular are being expected to pay, will, quite simply, mean that many businesses that were just about weathering our long downturn will now inevitably fold.

I have spoken personally to one retailer whose rates are to jump by 750%! And this is a person who is newly in a craft business, working alone and who has been helped enormously by the local Waterford City Enterprise Board. What is the point of assisting a start-up business like this with one hand if we intend crippling it with increased charges with the other hand? To say it is counter-productive is to put it mildly! It is crazy. For a city like Waterford which is undergoing a huge period of difficulty and high unemployment - much higher than the state average, how can this be justified?

We have suffered huge job losses of which you are aware, our city is being downgraded by Minister Hogan in a move that has been labelled as a backward step by none other than the Council of Europe and last week, I chaired the last ever meeting of the City of Waterford VEC which is now to be head-quartered in another adjoining Ministers constituency of Wexford.

Taoiseach, you would not stand idly by and see this happen in your own constituency - yet we here in Waterford seem powerless to stop the pillaging of whatever small gains we have had, by Ministers who now see it as their 'time' - to hell with strategies, or consequences, or even the detriment of the entire South East Region!

Who will cry stop? Who will halt the destruction of the oldest city in Ireland? This is your Government, Taoiseach and you can help Waterford.

Put the rates re-evaluation on the back-burner at least. Consider giving a Minister or Junior Minister a specific brief for retail. Every sector from Fishery to FDI has a voice at cabinet. Why not elevate retail which provides so many jobs? Another consideration might be to allow Local Authorities some disretion to differenciate between different types of businesses.

Finally, I write - in vain I know - to ask you once again to reconsider the amalgamation of Waterford City & County. Despite asking for over a year now I still have not received any comprehensive costings associated with the merger. Please do not bother sending this to Minister Hogan as he hasn't got them either. There are no costings - only savings, which when looked at in the absence of costs is merely looking in the plus column without the counter-balance of the minus column. It would equate with doing a SWOT analysis with just the Strengths and Opportunites detailed - and nothing of the Weaknesses or Threats. It is but half the job. A ridiculous and financially unsound way to make any decision. Please look at this again Taoiseach - and at the very least, demand the costings. Follow the money.

Yours in defence of Waterford City.
Mary Roche

Councillor Mary Roche,
Waterford City Council,
City Hall,
The Mall,
087 2273206