Series of meetings planned as cash-strapped Longford businesses hit back over rates revaluation

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Business owners across the county are up in arms over recently announced commercial rates revaluations.

Business owners across the county are readying themselves for a string of public and behind closed doors meetings over concerns recent commercial rate revaluations could force many to cease trading.

It comes after the national valuation office notified more than 6,000 ratepayers across counties Longford, Roscommon and Westmeath of newly imposed estimates on their buildings over the past week.

The announcement has prompted a raft of individual business owners and small firms to hit out, much of which has dominated news feeds across various social media networking sites.

It has also garnered national scrutiny with a number of businesses featuring on RTÉ's Six One News yesterday (Wednesday) evening.

One of those who featured,  Andy Byrne of Any Byrne's Pub, told this website less than 24 hours earlier that he was facing an "unviable" 400 per cent rate increase.

In the wake of those claims, it has emerged a string of meetings are being planned by business representative organisations in a bid to establish greater clarity on the issue.

The first of those is to take place this evening with members of Ballymahon Traders Association being invited to a meeting at 9pm in Cooney's Hotel.

"It's really to develop a strategy because with Center Parcs and the whole lot coming we need to hear what people have to say," he said.

"I certainly know a lot of businesses that are paying high rates will be there," he said.

The group's PRO Jackie White said while the topic of commercial rates has always been a thorny one, the onus was very much on valuation officials to explain the rationale behind newly introduced estimates.

"It (rates) has always been an issue," she said.

"But in fairness to the County Council they have always been very flexible in terms payments.

"The Valuation Office need to come back to us and tell us where they get their valuations from. There has to be some level of fairness in the whole situation."

Meanwhile, the Leader also understands Longford Chamber of Commerce officials are planning to host their own meeting, which is expected to be open to the public over the coming days.

For more on this story, see next week's Longford Leader.