Call to compensate Limerick traders for O’Connell Street works delay

Work under way on an earlier section of the O'Connell Street redevelopment project.

LIMERICK City and County Council has been asked to consider a Business Interruption Scheme for local traders affected by ongoing delays to the €9 million regeneration of O’Connell Street.

At this Monday’s meeting of the Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely proposed that the feasibility of a Business Interruption Scheme for traders be discussed as a means of compensation for when building works impact on the revenue of local businesses.

“If works are taking place outside a particular premises, they are affected and as such should, in my opinion, receive compensation. If that is in the form of a rate reduction or another mechanism, I think it would help,” Cllr Kiely told the council executive.
“Obviously the business affected would be able to prove this and as such be eligible for the proposed compensation. The council executive may be able to assist with the application in the form of a clinic-style process. Applicants could meet with personnel from Economic Development to see how to proceed with the application once parameters are set.”
The City East representative also suggested that such a Business Interruption Scheme could be a tiered system of compensation, depending on the losses incurred and the time involved.
“Ideally I would prefer a rate reduction for the affected businesses. As part of the tendering process for any public realm works, a commitment should be made to businesses affected adversely that they will be compensated,” she added.
Supporting the motion, Green Party councillor Saša Novak took the view that any kind of public realm improvements can often lead to resistance.
“We need to look at the bigger picture. The city must develop. Building happening is a sign of a city developing. We need to make sure that traders don’t become collateral damage in the process, and such a scheme would bridge the short-term pain,” she suggested.
Cllr Liam Galvin (FG) was also in support of the motion.
“Some businesses would be better off closed down during some of these works. It’s within our gift to do this, so why not adopt the policy and do something meaningful?”
Director of Economic Development Vincent Murray, who told council members that the O’Connell Street works were due to be finished at Easter, said that there was no budget in place to implement such a scheme at present.
“This isn’t a good road to go down. We don’t have have the budget for this type of compensation and it could have huge implications at national level. It would need to be looked at.”
Mr Murray went onto tell councillors that his job was to outline the challenges. He said there was no problem setting up a working group to look at the proposal, but warned it would have huge financial implications.
“Bring it on, let’s be brave,” Cllr Kiely replied.