Paying businesses will not be favored as they were last year when Wexford Borough District Council awarded new licenses for five beer gardens on the quay front, in Min Ryan Park and Carrigfoyle and successful applicants should operate throughout the year.
The annual licensing criteria have been expanded for 2022, with some advisers asking that at least one start-up company be considered and others suggesting that holding a license before shouldn’t be a guarantee of success.
District manager Angela Laffan told a council meeting that last year’s licenses were issued on April 1 and were due to expire on March 31 this year.
“Before we issue licenses for this year, we just want you to run them and get your feedback on the program we put in place last year before we relaunch expression of interest advertising,” he said. she declared.
Independent adviser Leonard Kelly said the scheme was a success and the units were being well used, but while Wexford ratepayers had preference last year during lockdown, there was now an opportunity to give people a chance a start-up and he suggested that one of the cafes on the quay could be assigned to a new business.
Sinn Féin Councilor Tom Forde agreed and called on the Council to “level the playing field” for all units and not just one, by removing the payment condition.
Council deputy chief executive Tony Larkin said it was a question for members and added that last year during Covid there was a strong desire to support local taxpayers whose businesses were closed.
His feeling was that the criteria could be scrapped this year and all candidates would be allowed to run on their merits.
Cllr John Hegarty of Fine Gael asked if a proven track record would be taken into account as the local authority now knew, based on the past year, that some people were able to deliver the goods.
Labor councilor George Lawlor said he was aware the units on the quayside had proved very effective in an important amenity area for the town of Wexford and although there are start-ups who needed support, the Board might run a bit of a risk in licensing someone with no proven experience.
Cllr Maura Bell (Labour) agreed with the removal of the tariff stipulation and stressed the need for seven day trading, saying it was a requirement but only one of the companies from the front of the quay stood there.
Wexford Mayor Garry Laffan suggested the criteria should be left open from year to year without any restrictions. “I would be happy to leave it to the district manager to ensure the best product is selected.”
Mr Larkin agreed that units should be required to be open seven days a week. “I think you also have to consider quality. I think you would hope for someone with a track record, who would be able to handle the numbers.
“We would like to be sure that they know how the business works.”
Cllr Hegarty suggested that the Board write to current licensees thanking them for their service. “They did their best to deliver what was expected of them.”
Cllr Forde requested that successful candidates be notified ahead of Board members as last year some were disappointed to find out via social media.
Mr Larkin said the Council eventually hopes to build permanent facilities on the quayside with a view to renting them out to cafe operators, which the district manager has lobbied.