FOR 15 years, Dave Neville has successfully operated watersport camps in West Clare but now the Nevsail Watersports owner is battling to save his thriving Kilkee business.
Neville, who currently rents two beach huts, fears that a recent decision by Clare County Council to make just one beach hut available at the popular seaside resort from 2020 onwards will put a “nail in the coffin” of his business’ presence in Kilkee.
Requested to “hand back the keys to the council in September”, the Nevsail owner, who also operates out of Limerick, says he simply “can’t function successfully [in Kilkee] without the two huts”.
According to the Limerick man, Nevsail will not be able to take any more group bookings, such as the popular school tours, with only one hut as he will be unable to provide separate male and female changing facilities.
“Clare County Council have left the two huts with us for 2019 but in September I have to give back the keys. I have to get all the gear out and then for the 2020 season they only plan to put one of the huts out to tender,” Neville explained.
“When I give back the keys, I can’t take bookings from September. 2020 isn’t looking good”.
“The summer camps are unreal – you have 40 to 50 kids out in the morning and the afternoon doing three hours of watersports in the summer. It is fantastic for them.
“Nevsail has been there for 15 years but it can’t operate without the second hut. 50 per cent of the business would be eliminated.
“It is a bit of a slap in the face from the council,” he added. (Please get rid of this line.)
Looking for a long-term resolution, Dave Neville is now urging Clare County Council to allow him to continue to rent both beach huts or to work with him to form an alternative suitable solution as having just one hut would “eliminate” the Kilkee half of his business.
“The business that Nevsail brings is phenomenal,” he said. “You are providing five or six jobs”.
Mr Neville stated his belief that Nevsail also provides a significant positive knock on effect for tourism in the area, with many local businesses also benefiting from the added visitors to Kilkee.
A significant part of Nevsail Watersports’ business in Kilkee comes directly from school tours.
“You’ve got kids coming down – boys and girls. With the two huts you can put the boys in one to get changed and the girls in the other to get changed.
“The huts only take about 15 to 20 people to get changed so with one hut you are now allowing yourself to get take a group of up to 20 people maximum.
“It will stop all school tours because you need the two separate changing rooms.
“It is basically putting a nail in the coffin,” he added.
In a bid to highlight his business’ predicament, Dave Neville has set up an online petition urging Clare County Council and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross (IND) to intervene before he is “forced out of business”.
As of Thursday, June 27 a total of 3,435 people have signed the petition.
When contacted by The Clare People, a spokesperson for Clare County Council said the local authority is unable to comment on the matter as the beach huts in Kilkee are subject to a confidential licensing arrangement.