Wexford Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Sheehan has called for the introduction of VAT Rebate Zones in town centres that formerly had Town Councils. The proposal aims to give new businesses a VAT rebate of up to €10,000 per annum to rejuvenate and develop towns for the 21st century. The call comes after a well-attended meeting in Wexford which discussed the need to build a sustainable rural economic base. Cllr Sheehan said, “The recession has had a devastating effect on the economies of our towns nationwide. Combined with the hallowing of the commercial centres by recession and the abolition of Town Councils, the government have left the middle of our towns afloat and adrift.
In the past Fianna Fáil led councils have created and implemented a range of incentives and policies to encourage development in our town centres. However we need a fresh drive to rejuvenate our towns and villages. Councils introduced a raft of programmes such as the Shop Front Scheme and Rate Incentive Schemes while keeping the increase of commercial rates to zero for the last several years to keep the heart of our towns beating.
“This new policy is designed to rejuvenate and redefine modern Irish towns for the 21st Century. Former rating or Town Councils would be eligible for the scheme subject to population limits of 10,000 people.
“The council would adopt a scheme of terms and conditions about who is eligible to apply, types of businesses and the areas applicable to be covered. The plan should take into the unique culture and interests of the centre. Businesses within the Rebate Zone can then claim up to €10,000 per annum from Revenue upon being approved for three years.
“Councils can be prescriptive or expansive in their application of the programme per individual. With the changes in the economy and in consumer patterns over the last decade, towns need to be focused on their unique experience and qualitative choices over a mere commercial transaction.
“Our party believes in a strong, viable commercial centre that empowers and offers a positive, secure expansive while ensuring the fabric of the rural environment provides jobs, services and amenities for all the partners. What I’m calling for will ensure the future of towns are vibrant, successful and full of life and energy. We need to empower our towns, not choke them off as it the objective of this Government.
“This Government has abandoned the rural and provincial towns of Ireland. This policy would see targeting investments that would regenerate the commercial centre, expand the cultural dimension and obliterate dereliction in our towns. Consumers would get a holistic shopping experience and once again, towns would flourish rather than being urban ghost towns.