Dublin businesses block council’s efforts to charge for city centre marketing company

Court throws out cases

 A group of Dublin businesses have succeeded in blocking attempts by the city council to force them to contribute to the upkeep of a company set up by the local authority to promote the centre of the capital.

A group of Dublin businesses have succeeded in blocking attempts by the city council to force them to contribute to the upkeep of a company set up by the local authority to promote the centre of the capital.

Thu, May 2, 2013, 14:15

A group of Dublin businesses have succeeded in blocking attempts to force them to contribute to the upkeep of a company set up by the local authority to promote the centre of the capital.

Local businesses set up Dublin City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) Company, following a plebiscite of ratepayers, to work on improving and marketing the capital’s central shopping area in 2007 and renewed its mandate last year.

Most of its €2.4 million annual income comes from a compulsory levy on businesses, which is charged in addition to commercial rates, in the area concerned, which is bounded by Amiens Street and Capel Street on the northside and Dawson Street and George’s Street on the southside.

The District Court recently threw out a series of claims taken by Dublin City BID company against a group of retailers, amounting to thousands of euro in some cases, for not paying the charge.

The businesses in question were invoiced by Dublin City Council for the levy, but the actions were taken by the BID company, which the court ruled had no legal standing to take the cases in the first place.


Effectively rates
The businesses, including Mitchell Auto Accessories on Capel Street, Nico’s Restaurant on Dame Street, travel agent Panther Associates, Shu Crazy on Talbot Street and a Spar shop on Liffey Street, claimed that the BID company’s charges were effectively rates.

The District Court accepted the arguments put forward by lawyers for some of the businesses, Michael Nuding of Denis I Finn solicitors and John Murchan of Murchan & Company, that as the council raised the invoices and the charges were effectively rates, only Dublin City Council could sue for the levy.

The company’s chief executive, Richard Guiney, explained that the council collects the money on the company’s behalf.


Claim dismissed
Judge Mary Collins dismissed the claim and ordered BID company to pay the defendants’ costs.

The company had a number of weeks in which to launch an appeal but Mr Nuding said yesterday that this deadline had passed.

Some of the businesses concerned argue that the BID Company is doing work that should be done by the council and paid for from normal commercial rates paid by all traders.

Dublin City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) Company Ltd’s accounts for 2011 show that it had income of €2.4 million that year, over €2.2 million of which came from the levy on the 2,500 businesses in the area it covers. Of this, it spent close to one third on salaries and benefits for its 20 staff .

The company’s highest profile project is the Christmas lights on Grafton Street.


Cleaning streets
Its stated objectives include bringing more people into the city centre for shopping and entertainment, combating anti-social behaviour by working with the Garda, cleaning streets and removing graffiti.

It also lobbies against the expansion of services for the homeless and drug addicts in the city centre on the grounds that these should be based in communities.

* This article was edited on 02/05/13 to amend an error