Rates issue in need of urgent reform

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Any hopes of a recovery in Longford’s retail sector could hinge on likely reforms to Ireland’s local government rates legislation.

Any hopes of a recovery in Longford’s retail sector could hinge on likely reforms to Ireland’s local government rates legislation.

That’s the view, at least, of local auctioneer Sean Dalton this week as government leaders consider proposed amendments to section 14 of the Local Government Act.

Speculation over the past number of days has centred on concerns that rates might still be charged on commercial properties that have either closed or ceased trading.

According to Mr Dalton, those measures will only serve to weaken an industry that has enjoyed a resurjance at a local level in recent months.

“What they (government) should be doing is getting people into these units, not keeping them closed,” he said.

Since August, the likes of Shaws, €urogiant, Iceland, Costa Coffee and Mr Price have all announced details of store openings in and around Longford town.

But Mr Dalton warned of the present difficulties facing businesses in terms of meeting rate repayments.

“I had a unit on Main Street that we couldn’t rent for three years because the rates were so high. What we need is a big push on jobs,” he said.