Hard to believe but true

Dublin City Council has admitted that they are incompetent, that they are not up to the job of keeping the city clean and generally well run. This is despite the millions they receive from the State and hard pressed traders by way of penal rates (Liveline, Wed 19th Nov).

In order to resolve the problem DCC have set up a private company to make itself more accountable. The new company, called BIDS (Business Improvement District) Scheme, has a team of ambassadors who patrol the streets with clipboard, pen and camera compiling a daily log of every bin not collected, every street light broken, every wayward scrap of litter.

The ambassadors have no legal powers but do meet with DCC officials once a month to present them with a file of their daily logs, which, we are told will result in DCC becoming efficient and accountable.

At first glance it seems like a good idea, traders not happy with DCCs performance can opt to employ the company or even become a member in order to get things done. But that’s the catch, membership is compulsory, all traders must become members and pay an annual fee of €500.

One trader called the whole scheme insane. She pointed out that in addition to penal rates traders also have to pay for bin collection, water and even damage caused by vandals and now they have to pay this additional €500 to get DCC to do the job they’re already paid to do.

One trader in favour of the scheme argued that the company arranges for floral displays, Christmas lights and the removal of chewing gum stain.

Joe pointed out that there’s already a tax for gum removal but the trader quickly retorted. No, that’s for the removal of gum but not the stain. We employ a powerwash company to come in and remove the stain left after the gum has been removed – I mean, can you get any more Irish than that?

Ok, we all know what’s happening here. DCC needs money but don’t have the neck to impose yet another direct tax so they create a new indirect tax collecting agency. And when they need some more dosh they’ll simply create another company to monitor the company that monitors them.

What continues to astonish me is how docile the traders are; they come on Liveline and complain but take no direct action like just refusing to pay what is an unjust tax.