Outdoor fitness trainer hit with €17k bill by council
A FITNESS instructor who was operating on Sandycove Promenade is being forced to stop his classes after the local council issued him with an annual bill of €17,000 a year.
John O'Connell of Super Fast Fitness had been operating outdoor training sessions on the prom since 2009.
In late 2008, he initially contacted Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to query what permits he needed to start up his business but was told that none applied to him.
He started the classes in January 2009, offering small, tailored classes to between 10 and 15 people. When the classes started to get bigger, John split the sessions to ensure clients had the same service. Soon he was running four classes a day, three times a week.
In March 2011, the council contacted John informing him he would need permission for the classes.
However, he was left stunned when a bill for €10,000 arrived in November of last year. The bill included arrears of €7,000 and a further €2,500 to cover the rest of the year.
Mr O'Connell consulted his solicitor and left the matter with him. However, the matter was never dealt with until earlier this year when John was approached by a council worker during a class and told to cease immediately or gardai would be called.
He immediately contacted the council to sort out the matter but was informed that the charge had risen for 2012 to €30 a class, working out at a charge of over €17,000 a year.
John has paid the council over €2,000 which will allow him to continue his classes until the beginning of March. However, he worries that if the issue if not resolved he will be forced to stop the Sandycove classes completely.
"If I'm paying €17,000 a year I would want lighting and waters and toilets, not just a patch of concrete. At the end of the day we're just using an outdoor area that doesn't need any maintenance or upkeep," he added.
A spokesperson for the council said it "charges for this commercial activity and has budgeted for 2012 on the basis of a standard rate of €30 per hour. The annual cost to the commercial operator will therefore reflect the level of their commercial activity across the year. The standard rate for commercial activity has now been set for 2012, but may be reviewed for 2013."