A Message To Our Members

Dear Members

In our weekly ezine of March 14th we detailed to you our comprehensive submission to Cork City Council. One proposal which was agreed at our AGM asked for a flexi 2 hours free parking initiative commencing at 10am in the North Main Street & Paul Street Car Parks running from Monday to Sunday inclusive, for a period of six months. It was acknowledged that a number of different parking promotions have been running since August 2018, the most recent of which ended in mid-February this year. We also asked that the Park & Ride service be free to users on Saturdays during the same six month period. Additionally, we have asked that the Park & Ride service be extended to include Sundays.

 

Cork City Councils response:

That this proposal would waive a huge proportion of total car park income and cost circa €2.3m. It would be very difficult for Council to raise replacement funds or agree compensatory cuts. However, they have agreed to engage with us to run seasonal or specific parking promotions and will work with the CBA to identify opportunities that can be delivered in partnership with the business community.

 

This was a deeply disappointing response but we will continue look for meaningful initiatives that incentivise our customer to visit our city. With that in mind we have had a productive meeting with one of the major private Car Park operators and we will update you on this initiative next week which will give you the business the opportunity to reward your customer by reducing their parking costs throughout the year. At a cost bespoke to your business type.

 

 

 

We are looking for a dedicated fund from Cork City Council to provide ongoing marketing of the city centre. This should involve a proactive marketing strategy as opposed to responding to issues as they occur.

 

Cork City Council’s response: 

That the Council continues to support various marketing initiatives for the city centre. This includes development and expansion of festivals and the implementation of promotional campaigns aimed at increasing footfall in the city centre through its city centre fund and other supports. The have offered to contribute an additional €100,000 specifically for city centre marketing provided it was matched by the local business community.

 

 

 

We have stressed that it is essential as a city we accurately measure what we do, especially in relation to city centre footfall. If we don’t measure, we don’t know! This is a critical piece of infrastructure and we are seeking a city wide system that, 365 days a year, measures activity in all our key streets. This is a fundamental tool that every city needs to assess how it is performing.

 

Cork City Councils response:

They have advised that the have installed six counters at three locations on St Patrick Street as part of the CCMS and have agreed to work with us to explore how this can be expanded to further locations throughout the city.

 

 

 

We asked Cork City Council to actively promote the Park by Phone facility by offering an attractive once-off free signing up offer of €10 credit to all new customers. Cork City Council should be targeting a 50% usage of this system which is currently in the low 20% bracket.

 

Cork City Councils response:

They have confirmed that the usage rate is increasing but they did not supply details. They agree with our contention that we should be targeting a 50% usage rate. They have reviewed the costs of our proposal and believe they have a more efficient and effective method of promoting the system and would like to work with us to develop this further. Again they did not supply details at this point.

 

 

 

We want to see the introduction of Parking Meters with a card/phone payment option in strategic locations across the city. This is again a critical piece of infrastructure on how we make parking in our city easier to use for locals and tourists alike. Once these options are up and running and have achieved a critical mass we should consider phasing out the disc parking system. 

 

Cork City Councils response

This was previously assessed as costing circa € 600,000 per annum. In addition, their assessment concluded that the provision of meters with no cash option will reduce cost only marginally and will not yield a return on investment.

 

We fundamentally disagree with the suggested costings and contend this should be principally be about making the customer (local or tourist) experience better and easier and we are adamant it would be revenue increasing.

 

 

 

We have asked Cork City Council to fast track the much needed improvements to Paul Street and North Main Street Car Parks and provide us with a date when these works are due to start.

 

Cork City Councils response:

They agree with our assessment of these Car Parks. Council is now considering tenders for the appointment of consultants. They also confirmed funding has been assigned to progress the initial prioritised works on a phased basis.

 

 

 

We have asked to have the “Living Over the Shop Scheme” in the city be re-introduced as this gives tax/rates incentives to premises owners who renovate disused spaces on upper floors for housing. This initiative has many benefits from providing additional housing to increasing the number of people living in the city which is good for business. It also could provide much needed revenue for hard pressed business owners from rental income.

 

Cork City Council hosted a day seminar on how to tackle the problem of urban vacancy; which the CBA attended.

Date: Thursday 21st March

Time: 9.45am to 5pm

Venue: Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork

 

The ‘Unlocking Upstairs’ event which was focused on tackling upstairs vacancy and was aimed at building owners, architects, engineers, developers, planners and anyone with an interest in how we can better utilise upper floors and vacant spaces.

More info available HERE.

 

Cork City Councils response:

Was essentially to confirm that they would be holding the above event and was committed to assessing how the challenges of bringing life to the upper levels of city centre buildings could be overcome. It will also continue to run the Living City initiative which has significant tax incentives for building owners.

 

 

 

We asked that they make the Commercial Rates Payment Incentive Scheme more attractive for businesses. Increase the qualifying rate base from €4000 to €5000, increase the grant from 3% to 10%. Extend out the grant to ratepayers who are in arrears provided they sign up to an agreed payment plan.

 

Cork City Councils response:

They noted our proposals and advised that 57% of ratepayers qualify for the current scheme (But the did not supply data on the take up percentage of the scheme). They advised that the current scheme allows for those who have paid the value of two years to access the scheme. The changes we proposed can be considered in the context of the next budgetary process for the 2020 budget which is a reserved function for the elected members.

 

 

 

Introduce a capped new business start-up rate incentive scheme of 50% off rates year 1; 25% off rates year 2.

 

Cork City Councils response:

While in principle a good idea the definition of a new business could cause issues (how?) and the scheme could be open to unintended consequences (what?). We received no details to explain their concerns here.

 

 

 

Offer incentives to owners who volunteer vacant properties for temporary use.

 

Cork City Councils response:

Advised that there is currently an artist’s exemption in place for landlords who offer their premises to qualifying artists. In addition, if a landlord offers a vacant property to a not for profit entity, Cork City Council generally writes off rates.

 

 

 

There must be stronger action on derelict sites. We welcome the change which will mean the 3% annual levy on the market value of the property increases to 7% of the market value from 2020.

 

Cork City Councils response:

That they have placed considerable resources in tackling dereliction in recent times. It has established a dedicated derelict sites unit and there are now over 100 buildings and sites on the derelict sites register. They have advised they are actively working with building and site owners to progress these sites.

 

 

 

Complete a full review of Cork City Centre Retail Strategy. This must be a bottom up review and have full and active participation by all parties. All businesses must be given the opportunity to have their say in the future retail blueprint for Cork City. Clear time-lines must be agreed on completion of the review and for its introduction. We also must assess the current retail offer in the city and how we can work collaboratively to attract key brands to the city centre.

 

Cork City Councils response:

That the retail strategy will be reviewed in the context of the development of the upcoming City Development Plan and have committed to engaging fully with the Cork Business Association and other stakeholders in this regards.

 

 

 

Introduce free city centre Wi-Fi (that works!).

 

Cork City Councils response:

That they currently provide free wifi in public spaces such as Bishop Lucey Park, Fitzgeralds Park and in front of Cork City Library. They have advised that they endeavouring to expand this into other public spaces without compromising the activities of commercial operators.

 

 

 

Improve directional signage in the city especially for tourists.

 

Cork City Councils response:

They are currently engaging with Failte Ireland to progress a wayfinding scheme funding application.

 

 

 

Work with businesses to improve black spots with sponsored initiatives such as area clean-ups and planting. Maximize the take up of the New Placemaking Fund as proposed by Cork City Council.

 

Cork City Councils response: 

That they regularly engage with businesses and community groups at a street or neighbourhood level to enhance black spots and will continue to do so. There have been significant amount of applications for the placemaking fund and successful applicants are being notified.

 

 

 

Provide an ongoing city centre street cleaning regime that must be published by Cork City Council and made available to businesses. A deep street cleaning programme schedule must also be agreed and made available to businesses. There needs to be better use of more modern cleaning methods and machinery to clean and remove litter from our streets.

 

Cork City Councils response:

That they would continue to engage with the CBA in this regard.

 

 

 

However we subsequently we received the following detail:

At present the following streets are on the Cork City Centre Street Cleaning daily cleaning regime:

 

  • Washington Street
  • Mardyke Walk
  • Western Road
  • Lancaster Quay
  • Woods Alley
  • Woods Street
  • Prospect Row
  • Lynches Street
  • Grenville Place
  • Bachelors Quay
  • Francis Street
  • Millerd Street
  • Devonshire Street
  • Coach Street
  • Devon Street
  • Moore Street
  • Grattan Street
  • Thomas Street
  • Peters Street
  • Sheares Street
  • Little Hanover
  • Gravel Lane
  • James Street
  • Anne Street
  • Fenns Quay
  • Court House Street
  • Hanover Street
  • Wandesford Street
  • Liberty Street
  • Cross Street
  • Little Cross Street
  • Adelaide Street
  • Liberty Street
  • North Main Street
  • Kyrls Quay
  • Kyrls Street
  • Coal Quay
  • Coachlanders Six Lane
  • Vaundelours Lane
  • Corn Market Street
  • Cook Pit Lane
  • Portneys Lane
  • Castle Street
  • Saint Augustine Street
  • Paul Street
  • Grand Parade
  • South Mall
  • St Pauls Avenue
  • Dalton Avenue
  • Pauls Lane
  • Half Moon Street
  • Parliament Street
  • Grafton Street
  • Princes Street
  • Marlboro Street
  • Cook Street
  • Morgan Street
  • Pembroke Street
  • Oliver Plunkett Street
  • Market Street
  • Market Lane
  • Elbow Street
  • Morgans Street
  • Winthrop Street
  • Winthrop Lane
  • Caroline Street
  • Phoenix Street
  • Crane Lane
  • Smith Street
  • Beasley Street
  • Parliament Bridge
  • Father Matthews Quay
  • Straid an athar maithu
  • Fitton Street
  • Keefe Street
  • Catherine Street
  • Morrisons Quay
  • Mutton Lane
  • Patrick Street
  • Careys Lane
  • French Church Street
  • Academy Street
  • Opera Lane
  • Bowling Green Street
  • William Street
  • Perry Street
  • Draw Bridge Street
  • Emmett Place

These street area swept approx 2-3 times daily. A street cleaning service is provided between 6am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 7am – 7pm on a Sunday (please note that a reduced service is provided between 11am and 7pm on Sundays and only the street between the quays are serviced between 6pm and 10pm in the evenings).

 

 

In regards to deep cleaning, please note the following:

 

  • The Aquazzura street cleaning machine covers Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street & Grand Parade on a daily basis between 6am and 2pm (rotated as required).
  • Pressure washing commenced in mid March serving the service strips on Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street and Grand Parade. Patrick Street has just been completed and we have moved onto Oliver Plunkett Street.
  • A gum removal tender for Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street and Grand Parade will be prepared soon with the works anticipated to be carried out in Summer 2019.

 

 

 

Flood Defences for Cork

We urgently want to see the commencement of work on Cork’s Flood Defence Scheme by the OPW. We acknowledge that significant improvements have been brought about by the active engagement of many stakeholders. The end result is a more subtle and less extrusive scheme than that which was originally proposed. It is also important to clarify that back in 2014 the CBA publicly called for a tidal barrier for Cork as one of the options to protect the city from flooding. However, our information is that the cost of such a scheme is way beyond the budget available to Cork or even available to the national budget for flood defence works at the moment.However if funding were available for such a scheme our position is the same as 2014 when we first proposed this option for Cork.

 

In the interim we cant continue to argue and sit on our hands and do nothing we need to commence local defence work as soon as practicable.

 

Cork City Councils response:

Cork City Council continues to work with the OPW to ensure that this scheme is progressed in a way that is sympathetic to the city, the quays, the environment, the landscape and the general amenity of the River Lee.

 

 

 

​In our original communication we acknowledged that some of our proposals would require additional funding but we stressed that is not a reason for inaction. However, it is also not a reason to raise commercial rates to deliver on these initiatives which is why we are advocating that Cork City Council borrow the necessary funds to implement these and many other critical infrastructure projects that are currently on hold. We understand the Cork County Council have recently agreed a loan of € 130 million for similar projects in the County and we see no reason why Cork City Council could not adopt the same innovative approach.

 

Cork City Council response: 

They are seeking to optimise the impact of investment in the city. To that extent, Cork City Council has been successful in attracting significant funds from various central government sources such as the DUCGS scheme, the LIHAF fund, Urban Regeneration Fund, the NTA & TII. They will continue to maximise these whenever possible as they respond to the changing needs of the city.

 

 

 

As we previously advised regarding the Events Centre, the Cork Business Association (CBA) and Cork branches of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) wrote to Ann Doherty CEO of Cork City Council on two occasions to ascertain where this project is. We called on her to provide clarification and to engage in meaningful communication on the long-awaited Cork Events Centre. We need clarity to understand where the delays are. It is now more than four years since the State funding was sanctioned and more than three years since the sod was turned on the site and businesses need reassurance, once and for all, that the project will come to fruition. We also need timelines to ensure this process does not continue moving at its hitherto slow and stumbling pace.

 

Since the above communication, the CBA and Cork branches of the IHF, VFI and RAI had separate meetings with Theo Cullinane Head of Bam Construction and Ann Doherty Chief Executive Cork City Council. Our understanding is there will be a statement on the issue in the coming weeks. All businesses and indeed the general Cork public hopes this announcement will finally clear the way for this project to commence. But we have been here before and until we have absolute certainty we have nothing.

 

There is significant information in this communication but it essential you our members are fully informed on the issues that we represent you our members on. We will now take each issue we have raised examine and evaluate their response and revert to Cork City Council on those issues where we feel they are not delivering what is in the best interest of business in the city. Conversely we will work proactively with Cork City Council on the issues we have an agreed position on. We will as always keep you our members informed of our progress or otherwise.