Sinn Féin Council Group Leader Mickey Ruane has warned that new changes in legislation have the potential of impeding the capabilities of charity and community groups to organise events and added that the Council must act to ensure this does not happen.
Councillor Ruane said: “In February a paper was presented to councillors highlighting the changes in legislation which were to commence in September 17 which meant Council would take on responsibility for road closure necessary for sporting, entertainment and community events.
“The recommendation at that time was that a charge of £400 for small events and £600 for larger events would apply. This was absolutely rejected by Sinn Féin.
At subsequent meetings it was agreed that an event being organised by registered community associations and or registered charities would be free of charge. To help absorb costs the Council set aside £45k in the 2017/18 rate.
“Following on from these changes councillors felt that the existing costs were still prohibitive for many voluntary groups which do not all into the above categories. A paper is to be presented to the Regulatory & Technical Services Committee meeting later this month suggesting a concession fee which would be 50% of the above charges, for events organised by voluntary sector. Council staff are looking at a range of ways to reduce cost which may include block advertising for a number of events to help reduce costs.
Councillor Ruane said by saying that ultimately any final decision had to balance the financial impact of the new legislation with ensuring that charity, voluntary and community groups were not impeded from hosting events many of which were of great benefit to local communities and in particular the most vulnerable in society. He added: “We recognise that the legislation will mean an extra financial burden on the Council thus there has to be a charge to promoters who wish to stage events.
“However we must balance that with ensuring that local community groups and charities are not impeded from organising what many of us as see these vital events which promote health, safety and community harmony.”