CORK County Council has issued a statement strongly defending its part in the controversy surrounding the removal of the historic Piper’s Funfair showman’s wagon from a square in Kinsale.
In its statement, the council says it had traditionally charged Piper’s funfair “an exceptionally modest rent” for its occupation of the Kinsale town centre car park on Short Quay that has been its home for 90 years.
“The Piper family engaged in discussions with the Council during 2019 to update and regularise the annual arrangement for the funfair and the formal proposals included specific increases to the charge starting in 2019,” the local authority’s statement reads.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic meant the Piper Funfair was unable to occupy the Short Quay site in 2020 or 2021, and when Brendan Piper enquired earlier this year about the funfair resuming this summer, he said Cork County Council had sought a rent increase for this summer, and had alerted him to an additional rent increase of €1,000 next year, a further increase of €2,500 in 2024 and yet a further increase of €5,000 in 2025.
In its statement, Cork County Council said the rents quoted are “significantly below market levels but reflect a necessary contribution for services which are provided by the Council in Kinsale.
“These services are partly funded through commercial rates which is a tax incurred by local businesses and is an important source of funding for the Council to provide essential services, maintain public spaces, and provide amenities including car parks, public conveniences and bins.
“As the funfair does not incur commercial rates during the temporary occupation of the car park the income from the rental is applied to support the services which are available for visitors to the funfair,” the local authority said.
“The funfair is traditional to the site and a unique offering for the town residents and visitors and it is in this context that the rent payment has been, and continues to be, heavily subsidised.
“The rent proposed for 2022 is a nominal charge in the context of commercial rents incurred by ratepayers in the town.”
The council says it engaged in a legal process, which it says was initiated by “the owners of a caravan previously parked in the Short Quay, to address the owners’ right to occupy the public area and the owner of the caravan subsequently removed the caravan on a voluntary basis.”
Cork County Council adds that it is normal and appropriate for it to “refute unestablished claims to permanently occupy public areas or unsubstantiated claims of ownership”.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition initiated by local Green Party representative Marc O’Rian had by Monday passed 1,800 signatures.
The petition reads: “The Council are forcing Piper’s caravan out of Kinsale. This is not only a loss for the Piper family, but also for the character and traditions that make the town unique.
“We, the undersigned, call on the Council to reinstate Piper’s caravan in Kinsale.”