Carrick-on-Suir Councillor Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan is to formally call for the removal of the town’s Supplementary Development Contribution Scheme (SDCS) at next Monday evening’s Town Council meeting.
The scheme, enacted last year, met with significant opposition from town traders and local residents, leading one Carrick businessman to call for a “mini-revolution” against its implementation.
The SDCS means that any planning applicant (relating to public infrastructure provision) has to make a financial contribution as a condition of a successful planning application.
The scheme is now synonymous with the contentious Riussiur Developments proposal for Cláirín, which incorporates the construction of a new shopping centre, discount foodstore and a third bridge for the town.
An Bord Pleanála will rule on the bridge this Thursday (May 7th) and on the shopping centre/discount store on May 20th.
Ahead of the June 5th election, the scheme remains a hot potato, with Cllr Cooney-Sheehan calling on Fine Gael to “put up or shut up” and back her motion on Monday night next.
However, the Fianna Fáil member’s position has “mystified” Fine Gael Councillor David Shee, who claimed that Cllr Cooney-Sheehan has embarked on a “solo run”, given that her own party has yet to universally reject such charges.
Said Cllr Cooney-Sheehan: “In the run up to the local elections, Fine Gael candidates have said that they will look to have this charge scrapped if re-elected, with many including it on their election literature. I am now asking them to help have the charge removed before the elections by backing my motion.
“It’s really time that Fine Gael put up or shut up on the issue of the supplementary development charge. They have the chance now to have this charge scrapped before the election by backing my motion so I don’t see why they would have to wait until after the local elections.”
Cllr Shee said that he couldn’t speak for party running mates Margaret Croke, Tony Hogan, nor could they for him regarding the scheme. “Each candidate is perfectly capable of explaining their stand on the doorsteps,” he said.
Cllr Shee also rejected claims that the SDCS had been a failed experiment. “This charge was only aimed at large scale developments and smaller scale developments. All of the town centre developments were removed by the Council in order to help small developers and those who wished to develop and rejuvenate the town centre.”
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said the scheme represented a “second tax,” with the funding from the charge “earmarked to fund a bridge on the bog fields which will be built by private developers”.
She added: “However it is now acting as an extra hurdle for small businesses that are looking to set up or expand in the town…
“In Carrick however the Council has implemented a deterrent. When this scheme was advertised to the public there was 235 objections lodged against it from across every sector of the community, but they were ignored by officials and eight Councillors.”
Referring to her motion for next Monday’s meeting, Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said that it provided the Council with “an opportunity to correct this injustice”.
She continued: “Fine Gael has stated in their election manifesto that they are against the supplementary charge, now they have a chance to put this into practice. They wouldn’t be campaigning on this if they knew it wasn’t the right thing to do and unless they knew the people of Carrick wanted the charge scrapped.”
Were one of the projects proposed for the Clonmel Road to be green-lit, Cllr Shee claimed that the charge would bring in additional monies totalling between €600,000 and €700,000 for Carrick-on-Suir.
Cllr Shee said that any suggestion that the SDCS was the reason the town continued to suffer from a ‘development deficit’ was an “attempt to grossly mislead the public”.
“Without [the charge], as Cllr Cooney-Sheehan is suggesting, the Council would not collect this money from the developer.”
So expect lively exchanges on this issue at Town Hall on Monday night next as the election campaign gets cranked up a notch.