Council has a role to play in rejuvenating small-town business


Local authorities such as Galway County Council have a major role to play when it comes to plans to rejuvenate small-town business, according to East Galway TD Paul Connaughton.
‘The way business is being done is changing rapidly and nobody realises that more than small town retailers. More and more business is done online, whether that is topping up credit on a mobile phone, buying music or clothes or reading news. It is increasingly difficult to entice people out of their homes or cars and into the local village or town.
‘Businesses in the small villages and towns of East Galway continue to struggle and finding the cashflow to pay the annual rates is a real struggle for many. I have heard complaints from business owners from across the county in relation to the Council’s inflexible attitude to rate payments. Many rate payers cannot pay the rates in one lump sum and cannot meet monthly payments, but have no alternative to make the payments sporadically, as cash becomes available, especially in businesses with a small volume of high-value transactions.
‘I have heard stories of retailers in small amounts of arrears in terms of rates, who are continuing to pay rates, being issued with court proceedings. Such proceedings are a huge worry for any business owner and rather than incentivise continuing in business, they are incentivising closing such businesses.
‘I also believe that the day of visitors to our towns and villages having to pay for the pleasure to park up and do their business should be at an end. In many towns, it is the shoppers, rather than the parking places, that are at a premium. Businesses already pay once in terms of rates, their customers should not also have to pay, especially in towns crying out for increased footfall.’