Dublin City Council is coining it on 'sunshine tax', according to the Restaurants Association

The industry body said incoming sandwich board licence fees are ‘shockingly excessive’.

By Zuzia Whelan Reporter, Fora

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL collected more than €600,000 in tax from restaurants on outdoor tables and chairs last year, according to new figures obtained by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI). 

The figures, which were obtained by the RAI under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, were released as the industry group has taken issue with the council’s proposal to charge restaurants €630 a year for sandwich boards – calling it “shockingly excessive”.

Dublin City Council recently announced plans to introduce the charge from 1 September, with the association arguing that it’s “unnecessary” given there is existing legislation allowing the removal of unlicensed sandwich boards. 

“While the Restaurants Association welcomes the regulation of street furniture, this move will disproportionately affect small businesses, who cannot afford a fee of this size,” Adrian Cummins, the RAI chief executive, said.

He added that the proposal builds on the Dublin City Council’s “sunshine-tax” which is already charged on outdoor tables and chairs. The RAI released figures for the previous four years, which show the amount of “sunshine tax” collected by the council increased from €451,619 in 2014 to €547,031 in 2017.

In a statement sent to Fora, a spokesperson for the council said that sandwich boards – which it describes as “A boards” – require a licence under the planning and development act, which stipulates the fees payable.

“The policy is now being adopted due to the proliferation of ‘A’ Boards across the City which creates issues for pedestrian mobility, particularly for the visually impaired,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that the Disability Federation noted ‘A’ boards as the “biggest issue facing mobility and visually impaired (people) in the city”.

Applying for a licence

For street furniture in Dublin, businesses must pay an annual licence fee of €100, as well as an annual fee of €125 per table. A third fee, based on the size of the area covered by the furniture and what zone of the city it is in, also applies. 

To apply for a licence a business must arrange a meeting with the council’s street furniture unit, publish a notice in a newspaper, place a summary of the application on the premises, complete the forms and pay the fees. 

When considering whether to grant a licence, the council considers pedestrian safety, the wideness of the footpath, how many items of street furniture are already in the area, footfall and any comments and reports from the public, An Garda Síochána and the fire department. 

The application applies only to an area directly outside the premises – except in exceptional circumstances. 

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