Securing a bus shelter for Kilmacthomas has been made a public service priority by local councillor Liam Brazil and Waterford TD John Deasy.
The Fine Gael colleagues have made representations to Waterford City and County Council on the issue, which has come up repeatedly in their contacts with residents over recent years.
In reply to a letter from Deputy Deasy to County Manager Michael Walsh, the Council’s Director of Services Paul Daly confirmed: “We have investigated the matter and we are prepared to erect a bus shelter as requested. We are currently procuring same and seeking possible funding from the bus operator. It is hoped to have the funding in place in the coming weeks.”
The village is practically halfway between the city and the county town of Dungarvan and a lot of people, including senior citizens and parents with young children, use the Bus Éireann service between Cork and Waterford on a daily basis.
Pleased that progress is being made, Cllr Brazil said: “I have raised this at local authority level on a number of occasions and the need for a bus shelter was also brought up time and again on the extensive election canvass I did in Kilmac’. Last winter was one of the wettest on record and it’s long past the time when passengers should be expected to wait for a bus exposed to the elements.”
With a location earmarked at the end of Main Street, Deputy Deasy says it’s time to finally put this relatively small but still significant piece of infrastructure in place.
“I’ve been informed by the Department of Transport that a new €7 million fund for public transport improvements includes €1.5m for a major investment programme in bus shelters across the country.
“An estimated 40 additional shelters are to be provided under this measure, specifically targeting rural areas and I will be urging Waterford council officials to pursue this funding for Kilmacthomas if necessary,” he said.
The news that sufficient funding will be released to complete the refurbishment of Abbeyside beach comes after four years of lobbying central government.
In 2009 Dungarvan Town Council asked the National Building Agency to draw up a master plan for the Abbeyside waterfront which has fallen into disrepair over the past number of years.
Deputy John Deasy said: “The €183,000 being grant aided should be enough to complete the project as submitted by the Town Council. This summer the beach was busier than it has been for years but the state of the infrastructure is just not good enough. The Town Council did well to identify this grant scheme and apply for the money.”
The Abbeyside Waterfront development – covering an area from the Pond to Lands’ End; a linear shoreline length of 1.3km – will consist of:
“I am told by Town Council officials that it is ready to go after tendering and specification. The overall spend should be in the region of €0.25 million, with 75 per cent of the money coming from the grant scheme.”
::: Speaking about rates at the PAC on June 20
John tells Public Accounts Committee that revaluation process could leave local retail businesses on brink
Fine Gael TD John Deasy has called on the cabinet to immediately consider the potentially “catastrophic” implications of the rates revaluation process for retailers throughout Waterford city and county.
The Valuation Office has begun a systematic National Revaluation Programme based on a 2011 analysis of non-domestic rental values. Proposed Valuation Certificates have been issued to thousands of commercial and industrial ratepayers across Waterford over the past month.
With the average rateable increase in the retail sector locally around 40–50 per cent, “Make no mistake – people will be put out of business due to this revaluation,” Mr Deasy warned this week. “Many retailers are facing a doubling or even tripling of their commercial rates.
“The South East region has been worst affected by the recession, and the sector worst affected within that region – retail – is in danger of being crushed by this process.”
“In my home town of Dungarvan they are also potentially facing an increase as a result of the abolition of the Town Council and the harmonisation of Town Council rates with the higher County rate. Then there’s Waterford City, where there’s an enormous unemployment rate; approaching 30 per cent in parts.
“The South East region has been worst affected by the recession, and the sector worst affected within that region – retail – is in danger of being crushed by this process,” added Mr Deasy, who met the Commissioner for Valuation in Waterford at the weekend.
He also raised the issue at the Public Accounts Committee last Thursday, where he agreed with retail ratepayers that there’s “a massive disconnect between Dublin and what’s going on on the ground.”
While accepting “the people in the Valuation Office are merely doing their jobs,” Deputy Deasy maintains that “the legislation allowing for the revaluation doesn’t taken into account what’s after happening to the business community these last six or seven years.
“Self-employed people have ended up with massive personal debt and a far smaller customer base. This legislation made no provision for the changing economy. It was written in a different time economically.”
Deputy Deasy also points to the “macro-economic policy issues arising from this revaluation process. In many cases businesses have come to me and said, ‘We’re going to have to leave people off if I have to pay this bill’. That has an effect on the State spend when it comes to unemployment benefits and so on.”
And he insisted: “Someone in Government needs to attempt to understand the implications of rates revaluation. The Government can’t wash their hands of a measure that has the potential to wipe out another chunk of the retail sector.”
::: Dungarvan town: well run
The impact of higher commercial rates after the merger of Waterford’s local authorities could place an intolerable burden on small businesses, Fine Gael Deputy John Deasy has warned.
The Waterford TD wants the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to clarify the situation facing businesses in soon-to-be-abolished Town Council areas post-amalgamation.
“In this economic environment, which has been disastrous for retail in particular, an increase in local authority rates would sound the death knell for many businesses,” he fears.
Mr Deasy raised the “problematic” area of rates equalisation with senior Department officials at Public Accounts Committee level last December and they acknowledged it is a concern.” He pointed to the “massive divergence” in Annual Rateable Valuations among local authorities around the country, confirmed in figures gleaned by way of a Dáil question earlier this year.
“So far the Department response has been about achieving ‘rates harmonisation’ on a county-wide basis – possibly, but not categorically, around the lower commercial rate in contiguous council areas. However, when you see the huge difference between the rateable valuations in Dungarvan and Waterford City in 2012 [60.37 and 66.22 respectively], the local business community are rightly concerned. That Waterford County Council’s ARV is 69.92 has hardly helped Tramore,” he noted.
Deputy Deasy has called on his party to live up to the pledge in its 2011 pre-election small business policy document to ‘continue to freeze local authority business rates and reduce them where possible.’ Furthermore, Fine Gael members on councils controlled by the party were instructed by headquarters to keep rates at existing levels for three years after the last local elections (2009).
At that time, Fine Gael said “to restore competitiveness we need to lower business costs to help them through the recession.” The party coupled a “commitment to freezing local business rates” with radical local government reform, and a “wish to see savings and efficiencies rather than new taxes and charges.”
“If shops in towns like Dungarvan can’t afford to keep going, the cumulative effect on the wider community is huge. It means more people on social welfare, less money in circulation, a smaller local rate base to support council services, and a lower tax take for the Exchequer."
Deputy Deasy explained: “When I brought this up at the PAC before Christmas, I cited the danger of effectively penalising Dungarvan, where the Town Council has been well run for many years, helping to maintain business and jobs. In other words, efficiency would not be rewarded if rates in Dungarvan are equalised towards the higher City or County Council figures.”
He says a significant number of business people – barely surviving as it is due to collapsed footfall and high overheads – are “facing a double whammy in that the Valuation Office is currently revised the rates liability attached to their properties, in some cases upwards; now they could now be hit with a general rates hike as well.”
Deputy Deasy added: “If shops in towns like Dungarvan can’t afford to keep going, the cumulative effect on the wider community is huge. It means more people on social welfare, less money in circulation, a smaller local rate base to support council services, and a lower tax take for the Exchequer.
“Striking a fair balance in setting commercial rates will be a major test of whether this government’s reform agenda can be both pro-business and cost-effective,” he concluded.