Press Release, Rates Rise, Cllr Kieran McCarthy
“I have been really disappointed by the rumours of a potential rates rise. I agree with the remarks of the Cork Chamber that Cork traders are being squeezed enough for more tax related money which they just don’t have. I have said before strongly in the Council Chamber that the City Council going forward is starved of staff and starved of money. Its rates base has also been decreasing. Due to staffing shortages, more and more the Council has had to outsource its services, hence the high level of consultancy fees. This Council is being cornered by government. Local Government is not respected enough in the country. The powers that we have been given to raise revenue for the city is no where near what revenue this city needs to be the second city or a counter settlement to Dublin.
The City Council has a good working relationship with the Cork Business Association and Cork Chamber and the latter have consistently asked the Council to work with them to market the city centre more. This has been pursued more and more in what I describe as a piecemeal plan in very recent years. The city centre action plan (CORE) is really only beginning its work. We need to roll out more effective marketing strategies and parking regimes to get people back into to support the city. The council have also never really countered the business strategies of the suburban shopping malls and has not begun really to challenge the growing eCommerce market. We have not evolved to how retail is changing. I am gutted to see shops whereby sales are taking place all year and it’s not just ten per cent off but fifty per cent off and more. How is someone supposed to do business if they are in sale mode all year?
The city has nearly 30 festivals at this stage and over 110 days of festivals. This is one example to get people into the city. This momentum needs to be built upon and a better partnership established between the arts and business. For some festivals it really works, and for many partnership doesn’t exist. Look at how a small city like Galway harnesses its culture. Cork has 3-4 times Galway’s cultural prowess.
Ireland’s second city deserves to be better financed. It can’t always be take-take from the Council and traders. I acknowledge fully that the city has the Government investment for the Event Centre, which will transform the economy of the city but it is realistically probably at least five years away from being opened. So many businesses are down to survival of the fittest. There is also no one standing up for Local Government financial issues in Dáil Éireann and to critique it fairly. Cork City Council are on our own. What annoys me even more is how much potential this city has to develop business retail opportunities and to lead the region forward.