“It’s waste paper,” exclaimed Cllr Rosemary Whelan at Mountmellick Town Council monthly meeting last Thursday evening, referring to a letter from IDA Midlands regional manager Frank Conlon which she added was “completely unacceptable.”
In the letter, Mr Conlon wrote that he was “not in a position to attend” a meeting with councillors. They had wanted to discuss with the IDA ways of creating jobs in Mountmellick.
Cllr Marc Connolly described the IDA’s record in Mountmellick and Laois as “a downward spiral.” He stated: “I believe it’s a waste of time writing to the IDA.”
Cllr Bobby Delaney: “I thought these bodies and boards were set up to help people.”
Chairman Cllr Pat Bowe: “To the IDA, Laois is a forgotten county. They have done nothing for the county. We need a meeting with the IDA.”
Cllr Michael Gormley: “It (IDA letter) is very little making.”
Cllr Paddy Bracken: “The IDA’s record is shocking in terms of Laois.”
Also under fire at the meeting was the County Council for allegedly imposing expensive red tape on small local businesses.
Cllr Marc Connolly said the fee for erecting a sign to advertise such a business was €700.
Deputy county manager Ian McCormack: “It’s set out by statute - planning regulations.”
Cllr Connolly said some businesses wanted, in continental style, to put our chairs and tables in front of their premises. But, he claimed, the Council imposed a charge of €200 for each table.
Manager McCormack: “Planning regulations.”
Cllr Connolly: “It’s red tape. Another tax. I am asking the County Council, for God’s sake, to use common sense and allow some leeway for businesses in Mountmellick and Laois.”
Cllr Delaney said the reason given for many businesses closing was that “rates are too high.” He stressed: “Our town needs as much help as it can get.”
Manager McCormack: “If anybody is in trouble with rates, the Co Council will listen. The door is always open.”
Chairman Bowe: “The door is open for anybody involved with rates. If they have a problem with rates, they should go and communicate with the Council.”
Cllr Bracken: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that any business was closed because of rates.”
Cllr Connolly claimed Mountmellick had lost 16 jobs “because of red tape and planning permission.”
Cllr Ollie Payne said they’d been two years looking for signage for the Bay Road Business Park--but couldn’t get any satisfaction.
Chairman Bowe: “The more businesses that are in town the better for the town. We are expecting business people to pay, pay all the time.”