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KILDARE COUNTY COUNCIL

Minutes of Monthly Meeting
held at 2.00 p.m. on Monday, 21 December 2009 at
Áras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co Kildare

Members Present: Councillor C Purcell (Mayor); Councillors F Browne, K Byrne,
W Callaghan, R Daly, L Doyle, S Doyle, S Griffin, M Heydon,
P Kennedy, P Kelly, S Langan, A Lawlor, P McEvoy, J McGinley,
P MacNamara, M Miley, S Moore, C Murphy, M Nolan, T O’Donnell,
F O’Loughlin, D. Scully, M Wall and B Weld.

Also Present: Mr M Malone, County Manager, Mr P Minnock (Director of Services),
Ms S Kavanagh (Acting Director of Services), C Talbot (Meetings Administrator) and other officials.

_________________________

1/1209
Confirmation of Minutes

The council considered the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 30 November 2009, together with the progress report.  The meetings administrator advised the members that item 11/1109 of the draft minutes had been amended to reflect the resolution of the members to commence the process of varying the Johnstown Local Area Plan.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Griffin, seconded by Councillor Weld, that the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 30 November 2009 be confirmed and taken as read.


2/1209
Committee Minutes

The Council considered the committee minutes which had been circulated with the agenda.

Athy Area – 21 September 2009
Celbridge Area – 5 November 2009
Clane Area – 10 November 2009 
Kildare Area – 4 November 2009

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Miley, seconded by Councillor S Doyle, that the minutes be noted.


3/1209
Corporate Plan 2009-2014

Mr P Whelan presented the draft Corporate Plan 2009-2014 to the members advising that, subject to their approval, there would be no further change to the content of the Plan.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor McGinley, seconded by Councillor S Doyle, that the Corporate Plan 2009-2014 be adopted.


4/1209
Strategic Policy Committee Scheme

The meetings administrator referred to the draft Strategic Policy Committee Scheme which had been circulated to the members for consideration.  He stated that one submission had been received from Mr Liam Kenny, details of which had also been circulated.  He added that the Corporate Policy Group had formed the view that the monuments committee should be a sub-committee of, and have its work specified by, the Strategic Policy Committee.  It was further recommended that the committee should have two or three Councillors in its membership.

At this point the Mayor took the following motion from Councillor McEvoy:

That in light of specific legislative provisions for historic monuments advisory committees, and the exceptional record of the local experts who remain available to serve a committee in Kildare, the council considers whether to reconvene the HMAC outside the strategic policy committee system.

Councillor McEvoy confirmed that he agreed with the recommendation of the Corporate Policy Group.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor McGinley, seconded by Councillor Murphy, that the Strategic Policy Committee Scheme be adopted.

The meetings administrator informed the members that a special meeting of the Water and Environmental Strategic Policy Committee would be held on 15 January 2010 and all members were invited to attend.  Councillor Murphy, Chair of this SPC, stated that this meeting had been arranged in order to facilitate a briefing session on the River Basin Management Plans.

 

5/1209
Taking in Charge of Housing Estates

Mr Hannigan presented a report to the members dated 10 December 2009 recommending the taking in charge of the following estates:
Churchlands, Suncroft
Clorane Brook, Ballyfair, The Curragh

He advised the members that no submissions had been received in relation to the taking in charge of either development and, having considered the financial implications, and as the roads are of general public utility, the taking in charge of Churchlands, Suncroft and Clorane Brook, Ballyfair, The Curragh, was recommended to the members.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Browne, seconded by Councillor S Doyle, that the housing estates listed above be taken in charge.


6/1209
Mayor’s Business

The Mayor advised the members that he had recently attended the launch of the Road Safety Christmas Campaign for the county.  He stated that this event had also been attended by representatives of the Gardai, Ambulance Service and Civil Defence.  He encouraged everybody to be conscious of road safety over the Christmas period in the hope that we would not need to use any of these services.  The Manager concurred with the Mayor and asked everybody to drive safely, to have consideration for other road users and never to drink and drive.

The Mayor wished the members, Manager and staff a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.


7/1209
Manager’s Business

The Manager wished the members and staff a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.  He thanked the staff for all the work they had done in what had been a very challenging year.  He added that 2010 would be another challenging year and he looked forward to the continued cooperation of staff.


8/1209
Votes of Sympathy

The Mayor and members expressed sympathy with former Councillor Billy Hillis on the death of his nephew Bernard Hillis.


9/1209
Correspondence

The council noted receipt of the following correspondence:

• Letter from Mr Jim O’Hara, General Manager, Intel Ireland, thanking everyone involved in organising the recent event to commemorate 20 years of Intel in Ireland.  Noted.
• The Mayor stated that he had received a letter from President Mary McAleese acknowledging the plight of those affected by recent flooding and congratulating the services who helped to alleviate the problem.  Noted.


10/1209
Taking in Charge of Peel Hall Group Water Scheme

The council considered the following motion from the Athy Area Committee:
To consider taking in charge of Peel Hall Group Water Scheme.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Miley, seconded by Councillor Heydon, that the Peel Hall Group Water Scheme be taken in charge.


11/1209
Housing Capital Investment Programme

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor S Doyle:
That all house purchases from the housing capital investment programme, within housing estates that are not taken in charge, be contingent on verification from our taking in charge section that conditions of planning are being appropriately met by the developer or vendor.

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department, who he said had reported on behalf of the Housing Department also in this matter.  The report stated that, in the case where the Council proposed to purchase residential units directly from the developer in estates that are under construction, the Building Control Section can provide a report to the Housing Department setting out any relevant planning conditions that have not yet been complied with.  Such a report could be used to ensure that the development of infrastructure and services within the estate keep pace with the residential development.  The report noted, however, that developers have up to five years to comply with conditions of a planning permission and this will inevitably result in tenants living in unfinished estates.  The Building Control Section has no formal role in providing a safety audit of any unfinished estate prior to the allocation of houses to people on the Council’s housing list.  In order to ensure the integrity of the taking in charge process, it is appropriate that the role of the Council in building control and taking in charge is distinguished from its role as a purchaser of residential property.

Councillor S Doyle noted the contents of the report and stated that she was not of the view that unfinished estates should be taken in charge.  She considered, however, that the Council should ensure that proper private and public open space was provided before purchasing property in an unfinished development.  She stated that it was likely that the housing capital programme would continue to be used in the future to purchase properties in such developments and it was imperative that the Council would not sign a contract until it was satisfied that everything was in order.  She added that the purchases to date had been done very efficiently and were highly productive, but requested that the Housing Department liaise with the Building Control Section in relation to future purchases.

Councillor Murphy stated that the Council should be very careful not to purchase property in developments where the developer was in financial difficulty.  She requested a list of all properties that had been purchased in 2009 under the housing capital programme.  Mr Minnock agreed that a list of such properties, together with the average cost, would be circulated for the information of the members.  He added that approximately 50 houses had been purchased to date. 

In response to a request from Councillor Moore, Mr Minnock agreed to arrange a one day seminar for Councillors in order to outline the various options now available to the Housing Department for provision of accommodation.  In replying to a query from Councillor O’Donnell, Mr Minnock outlined details of the new leasing arrangement for housing being introduced by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Resolved that the report be noted.


12/1209
Higher Education Grant Scheme 2009/2010

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Callaghan:
That Kildare County Council take the necessary steps to ensure payments of higher education grants for 2009 take place as soon as possible.


The meetings administrator read a report outlining the position in relation to the Higher Education Grant Scheme 2009/2010.  He referred, in particular, to the large increase in applications received over previous years.  He outlined some areas where improvements might be made to the scheme in order to assist in speeding up the processing of applications including a change to the closing date for receipt of applications, reducing the need to duplicate work already done by another agency eg Revenue Commissioners and simplification of the grants scheme and processing requirements.  Mr Talbot stated that where members were aware of hardship cases they should be brought to his attention and he would endeavour to have such applications processed as quickly as possible.

Councillor Callaghan noted the suggestions contained in Mr Talbot’s report.  He added, however, that he was concerned about the financial difficulties that some students were in at present, noting that some students may have to give up their college course due to lack of funds.  He asked that everything possible be done to process grant applications as speedily as possible.  Councillor Callaghan proposed that a letter be sent to the Minister for Education and Science detailing the suggestions for improvements to the higher education grant scheme outlined in Mr Talbot’s report.

Councillor Murphy noted the work being done by the staff in the Higher Education Grant Section and added that the embargo on staff recruitment was having an effect in this area.  She stated that the increase in applications was predictable given the current economic situation, however, there had been no increase in staffing.  She suggested that the processing of higher education grant applications should be done by a single agency.   Councillor Griffin agreed that applications should be handled by one agency and proposed that this recommendation by made to the Minister.  Councillor McGinley seconded the proposal to write to the Minister outlining the issues of concern to the members. 

The Manager stated that the issue of transferring the function of processing higher education grant applications to one body had been discussed by the Manager’s Association and there had been no objection to this proposal.  He added that there had been a proposal for a number of years to transfer the function to VEC’s, however, no formal decision had been made to date.

Councillor Kelly asked whether other local authorities were experiencing the same difficulties with regard to the HEG Scheme as Kildare County Council.  Following a discussion on this matter Councillor Griffin agreed to submit a motion to the next meeting of LAMA and Councillor Lawlor will submit a motion to the next meeting of the ACCC in an effort to establish the view of other local authorities.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Callaghan, seconded by Councillor McGinley, that a letter be sent to the Minister for Education and Science suggesting amendments to the Higher Education Grants Scheme including a change to the closing date for receipt of applications, reducing the need to duplicate work already done by another agency eg Revenue Commissioners and simplification of the grants scheme and processing requirements.


13/1209
County Development Programmes

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillors Langan, O’Donnelll and Weld:
That Kildare County Council call on the Government to support the retention of the existing Community Development Programme structures, and in particular the three CDP’s based in County Kildare, so that they can retain their status as independent companies limited by guarantee, and that the Council supports the three campaign principles of the Kildare CDPs which are:
(a) The Community Development Programme and the three Kildare CDPs deliver a value-for-money support for community development in disadvantaged communities across Ireland. At this time of economic downturn, CDP’s are needed now more than ever. Rather than disempowering local participation and active citizenship, the Government should support it by maintaining the present structures.
(b) The CDPs should remain as independent companies limited by guarantee, ensuring that local people are leading the development of their own communities without being restricted by other agencies.
(c)  If any changes are to be made to the Community Development Programme, that CDP’s are consulted with and listened to in a genuine way and not merely as a token gesture.

Councillor O’Donnell proposed that the existing Community Development Programme structure be retained and, in particular, the three projects based in Co Kildare.  He added that the CDP’s should retain their status as limited companies and that the Minister should engage in discussions in relation to any issues involving change.  This proposal was seconded by Councillor Weld.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor O’Donnell, seconded by Councillor Weld, that a letter be sent to the Government requesting that the three Community Development Programmes based in Co Kildare be retained, that they retain their status as limited companies and that the Government engage in consultation in relation to any proposed changes.

 

14/1209
Other Business

Councillor S Doyle noted the response contained in the Progress Report from the Planning Department in relation to preparation of the Kildare Local Area Plan.  She requested that the report be amended to reflect the agreement of the members that priority be given to preparation of the Kildare Town LAP when the Local Area Plan programme recommences in April 2010.

Councillor Lawlor referred to the response contained in the Progress Report from the Planning Department in relation to variation of the Johnstown Local Area Plan and requested clarification as to when this work would commence.  The meetings administrator reiterated the Planning Department’s commitment to commence this work as soon as possible, but was not in a position to give a specific date.

The members wished the Mayor, County Manager and staff good wishes for the season and the year ahead. 

____

The meeting concluded.