A former mayor of Fermoy has called for a reduction in rates and rents and for business owners to avail of the grants available to ‘spruce up’ their buildings before they fall derelict.

John Murphy said that The 59 Club in Fermoy is an example of how a building could still ‘look good’ on the outside, despite not being in use.

“Now that the Celtic Tiger is beginning to roar again, the government should increase the capital grants. Each year we’ve seen the grants reduced and reduced so it’s time now for the government to increase the capital grant again.

“Hopefully grants will continue towards the cost of paint for the upkeep of buildings in the town but I’d also like to see a grant towards labour costs and for rates and rents to be reduced. It would be great to see an incentive for young people to get into business by offering them a ‘rate free’ period of a few years to help them get up and going until established. It’s important to keep our towns alive, to keep small shops alive and small towns busy.”

Under the Streetscape Painting & Signage Scheme 2017, tenants or owners of buildings can avail of a grant of up to 50% of the cost of painting the facades along the street. Applications on a full street basis (10 or more adjacent buildings on one street) will be prioritised over individual applications and if a full street comes together, a grant of 60% will be provided. Priority will be given to applications received by April 28, 2017. Tenants or owners of buildings in the town centre can avail of a grant of up to 50% of the cost of replacing existing plastic, neon and printed signs with ‘heritage type signs’’.

A contribution to a maximum of 50% towards the cost of materials apply where it is proposed the tenant/owner will undertake the work themselves.

Applications should be submitted to Ms Pauline Moriarty, MD officer, Cork County Council, Town Hall, Fermoy, Co. Cork.