Ennis Chamber in association with the Ennis Development Forum is calling on all business to participate in a Day of Action to protest at the proposed increase in the Commercial Rates. Ennis Chamber lobbied all 28 Clare County Councillors ahead of the Annual Budget Meeting which was held on Friday the 20th of November to vote against the proposed increase in the Commercial Rates in Ennis by 11% over 2 years. Despite President Pat Morris voicing concerns that jobs would be lost as a result of the passing of this budget, the majority of Clare County Councillors voted for the increase.
Ennis Chamber has four Action Groups within its membership covering Hospitality; Industry; Professional Service; and Retail. Following the announcement of the increase, the Chairs of these actions groups have been receiving communications from members expressing their concern and worry in relation to the future of their businesses. Chair of the Hospitality group under Promote Ennis, Brian O’Neill of Rowan Tree Café Bar and Hostel pointed to the success and retention of the 9% VAT rate in recent years to assist the sector as a measure of how tax reductions can grow business. Ronan Dillon, Mircosemi and Chair of the Ennis Chamber Industry Action Group said “the proposed 11% increase over two years in commercial rates is not what our Corporate headquarters would like to hear – any real or even perceived increase in our running costs makes it harder to win business from our own internal competitors, that is other Microsemi plants worldwide.” The high street retail trade has borne the brunt of the recession in recent years with strong competition from online stores as well as out of town shopping malls. Chair of the Retail Action Group Michele Madden, Madden Furniture reported that as a result many retailers are in payment plans with Clare County Council as they are in arrears and therefore will not be in a position to avail of the Rates Incentive Grants Scheme which was also adopted in the Annual Budget. Ennis Chamber members within the Professional Services sector rely heavily on businesses in retail and hospitality to use their services.
Every year since 2008 Ennis businesses have contributed approximately half of the income of Ennis Town Council through Commercial Rates alone, this is in addition to any Water Charges or Development Contributions. President of Ennis Chamber Pat Morris said “We are calling on the Clare County Councillors who voted for this Budget to reconsider the rates increase given the potential impact this will have on businesses. This is not just an issue for Ennis as thousands of people travel into Ennis every day from around the county to work in our County’s capital town.” In addition the proposed increase by 18% in Kilrush will have a crippling effect on what is already a hard pressed rural town.
Given the disappointing outcome of the vote at the Clare County Council budget meeting and the negative reaction from businesses and the general public alike, Ennis Chamber and Ennis Development Forum are organising a protest to take place at the next meeting of Clare County Council on Tuesday the 14th of December at Aras an Contae, New Road, Ennis. Businesses are asked to make as many of their staff as possible available to attend along with family and friends. Ennis Chamber is inviting its colleagues in Kilrush Chamber to ask their members and their staff to also participate.