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09 Dec 2021

Changes to Offaly's outdoor seating grant scheme welcomed

Changes to Offaly's outdoor seating grant scheme welcomed

Changes to Offaly's outdoor seating grant scheme welcomed

Offaly councillor John Clendennen has welcomed the changes announced this week in relation to eligibility for the Outdoor Seating & Accessories Grant Scheme for the Hospitality Sector, administered by Offaly County Council Tourism Section. 

"Over the past number of weeks, many hospitality business owners have contacted me expressing their frustration regarding the eligibility criteria for the Outdoor Seating & Accessories Scheme, particularly relating to roof coverings and floor surfaces that were not deemed eligible," commented Cllr Clendennen. 

The Birr Municipal District Councillor and Chairperson of Offaly Vintners Federation referred to a number of meetings which he held in recent weeks with County Council officials outlining the concerns raised.

Following an internal review of the eligibility criteria, revisions have been made to the scheme and additional roof coverings such as awnings, pergolas, gazebos and retractable roofs are now deemed eligible in addition to floor surfaces including concrete, stone chippings, paving and artificial grass. 

It is important to note that all hospitality outlets using public space will be compelled to apply for a Section 254 License and Cllr Clendennen has emphasised the willingness of Offaly County Councils to work with outlets that are seeking to make an application.

"In the best interest of public health and the need for an outdoor summer, I sought and received a commitment from Council officials that any business owners applying for Section 254 Licences would see their applications expedited in an effort to maximise their trading opportunity over the summer months, whilst also ensuring accessibly to public spaces for everyone," commented Cllr Clendennen. 

Permanent structures will continue to require planning permission and all applications under the scheme will be subject to the discretion of Offaly County Council for approval.

"This update in relation to the scheme is welcome news for coffee shops, restaurants and pubs right across Offaly, but we must not forget those businesses that are not in a position to trade outdoors and I know government are working to provide a clear roadmap for reopening in the coming days for those businesses," concluded Cllr Clendennen. 

The maximum grant available under the Outdoor Seating & Accessories Scheme is up to 75% of the ex-VAT cost of equipment purchased/installed with a maximum allowable contribution of €4,000 per applicant. Applications must be submitted online on or before September 30th 2021 with more information on the scheme available by emailing info@visitoffaly.ie 

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