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Anger grows over commercial vehicle ban

<p><font size="3">Amid widespread criticism of the move by the Department of the Environment, small and medium-sized businesses said they had no choice but to use the commercial 4x4s and small vans for both business and personal use.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">When taxing the vehicle they must now sign a declaration that it will not be used &quot;at any time for social, domestic or pleasure purposes&quot;. Businesspeople will continue to pay the reduced rate of &euro;288 for commercial motor tax instead of the higher average of &euro;1,204.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">Mark Fielding, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, said it had been inundated with calls about the changes. Most callers said they would continue to use their commercial vehicles for occasional personal use.</font></p>
<p><strong><font size="3">Hanging</font></strong></p>
<p><font size="3">He said the issue of signing a declaration had not arisen before. &quot;This latest vexatious green-tinged 'initiative' is crazy, is anti-business and will only exasperate thousands of self-employed individuals who are barely hanging on by their fingertips. These individuals have already been hit with significant increases in energy and transport costs due to the introduction of the carbon tax.&quot;</font></p>
<p><font size="3">Gabriel Gilmartin, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), called for a refusal by owners to co-operate with the request.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">&quot;If a farmer goes to a funeral on his way home from the mart, will he be at risk of being arrested for misuse of his commercial vehicle? If he picks up a loaf of bread, will he have to hide it under the cattle feed?&quot; </font></p>
<p><strong><font size="3">Offence</font></strong></p>
<p><font size="3">If caught using the commercial vehicle on family journeys, an individual runs the risk of a fine, as it is an offence to make a false declaration to gardai.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">A spokesman said gardai would continue to enforce all aspects of the road traffic legislation and urged all motorists to be fully compliant with it.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">A survey of more than 500 members of Onlinetradesmen.ie revealed that Irish tradesmen felt unfairly targeted by increased costs. Ted Lavery, managing director of the site, said his members felt the proposal was &quot;both unfair and untenable&quot;. More than 30pc of those surveyed said the proposals could be a tipping point in driving them out of business.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">The Small Firms Association (SFA) said the directive to local councils was another nail in the coffin for small business. SFA director Avine McNally, said: &quot;I question whether it would not be better for Government to focus its attention on initiatives that would assist, not hinder, small firms.&quot;</font></p>
<p><font size="3">Several tradesmen told the Irish Independent yesterday that they had no family car and used the commercial vehicle at weekends for family journeys and shopping.</font></p>
<p><font size="3">One Co Louth businessman, who did not want to be identified, said he was at his wits' end trying to make ends meet and never had to make a declaration restricting the use of the vehicle in the past. &quot;I don't know what to do. I have no choice but to use the vehicle at weekends for family use,&quot; he said. </font></p>
<p><font size="3">Labour's Liz McManus asked yesterday if similar restrictions on using work-related vehicles for personal use is to apply to ministerial cars. &quot;It is unrealistic to ask for assurances from farmers, small business owners and tradespeople that they will never, under any circumstances, use their vehicle for non-commercial purposes.&quot; </font></p>
<p id="articleAuthor"><font size="3">- Treacy Hogan </font></p>
<p style="font-style: italic"><font size="3">Irish Independent</font></p>

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