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A motion for businesses in Ennis town centre to receive Council assistance when it comes to the cleaning and repair of gutters and downpipes has been defeated.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Mary Howard proposed that the MD’s “engineering department co-ordinate and assist property/business owners with repair and cleaning of gutters and downpipes along the streets and lanes of Ennis town centre”. In an official reply, acting senior executive engineer, Barry Conway acknowledged that if a coordinated approach was taken by property owners “to address the issues associated with defective guttering and downpipes some practical assistance will be forthcoming from the MD technical staff subject to resources being available at the time”.

Cllr Howard outlined that she had been receiving complaints for years over “people getting soaked on the streets,” she pointed out the issue was highlighted regularly in Tidy Towns reports. “I propose we work in tandem with the owners, we need a coordinated approach, it is very difficult for shop owners, business or residential owners to coordinate this”. The Fine Gael councillor said road closures as a result of cleaning works have had an impact, “businesses need financial assistance,” she claimed. “At the end of the day they are rate payers, if we could do a paint scheme for the town of Ennis, we could this for the businesses”.

Photograph: Gregory Puckett

Her motion was seconded by Cllr Paul Murphy while their party colleague Johnny Flynn noted his concerns. “I would have difficulty with the MD taking control for private property, there should be enforcement. I wouldn’t like the message to go out that people stop maintaining gutters because the Council are going to do it for them. Some of them are enjoying a 100% refund on rates because they are leaving their property vacant”. He added, “I agree with the principal but not the context”.

“Spirit of the reply is what we should go by,” Fianna Fáil’s Tom McNamara suggested. “Wouldn’t every house in the county what their gutters cleaned if the Council do it in the town for businesses. If we do encourage property owners to get involved, the Council might assist with traffic management but I couldn’t see how they could get involved”.

“Do you not want them involved in monetary schemes like paint,” the Mayor of Ennis, Clare Colleran Molloy asked McNamara, “That’s different” he responded, “property owners have to take responsibility for their property”. His stance was reiterated by Cllr Pat Daly, “Property owners should be cleaning their own gutters. Businsses people have no problem getting their gutters cleaned, if we go down the road of cleaning them for everyone where does it end”.

Reacting to the views of fellow councillors, Howard said, “I’m not suggesting the Council get height for hire and clean them, I’m saying we have a coordinate approach and some financial incentive”.

Mayor Colleran Molloy noted there was “a divergence of opinion” and sought a counter motion. “I honestly believe we should go with the spirit of the reply and proposing we do that,” McNamara commented. The Mayor then asked Cllr Howard where she wished to go with the motion and she answered, “The paint scheme were a huge success. O’Connell St and Abbey St were the ones I got the most complaints about and they have the highest occupancy”.

“Motion doesn’t say assist it said financially assist, it’s not very clear. Cllr Murphy are you supporting the motion” Colleran Molloy queried. The Clarecastle councillor admitted he was in favour of the “principle of the motion” but had reservations about financial assistance. “That’s the spirit of the reply and that’s what I’m proposing,” McNamara repeated.

Cllr Flynn suggested writing to the street business association which Cllr Murphy agreed with, “If you were to get the street traders to come as a group that’s where you get value for money for your height for hire”.

Bringing an end to the debate, Cllr Colleran Molloy stated, “We will move on and accept response from Conway, the approach must come from businesses to seek assistance”.

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