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KILDARE COUNTY COUNCIL

 

Minutes of Monthly Meeting
held at 2.00 p.m. on Monday, 20 December 2010 at
Áras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co Kildare 

 

Members Present: Councillor B Weld (Mayor); Councillors F Browne, K Byrne,

W Callaghan, L Doyle, S Doyle, S Griffin, M Heydon, P Kennedy,

S Langan, A Lawlor, P MacNamara, P McEvoy, M Miley, S Moore,

C Murphy, M Nolan, T O'Donnell, F O'Loughlin, C Purcell, D Scully and M Wall.

 

Apologies:               Councillors R Daly and J McGinley

 

Also Present:          Mr M Malone, County Manager, Messrs P Minnock and E O’Sullivan (Directors of Services), Mr M O'Leary (Acting Director of Services),

C Talbot (Meetings Administrator) and other officials.

 

_________________________

 

1/1210

Confirmation of Minutes

 

The council considered the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 29 November 2010 and budget meeting held on 6 December 2010 together with the progress report.

 

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Purcell, seconded by Councillor Kennedy, that the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 29 November 2010 and budget meeting held on 6 December 2010 be confirmed and taken as read.

 

Councillor Lawlor referred to an item on the progress report and requested confirmation as to whether Mr Boland would be briefing the members at today’s meeting in relation to his meeting with the EPA.  The Manager confirmed that Mr Boland would brief the Naas area committee at their meeting on 21 December 2010 and was available to brief any members individually with regard to this matter.

 

 

2/1210

Committee Minutes

 

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

 

Athy – 22 November 2010

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Wall, seconded by Councillor Heydon, that the minutes be noted.

 

 

3/1210

Disposal of Land

 

0.094 ha. at Crookstown Lower, Ballytore

The Council considered statutory notice dated 9 December 2010 which had been circulated to members pursuant to section 183 0f the Local Government Act 2001 signifying intent to dispose of 0.94ha of the council’s land at Crookstown Lower, Ballytore, Co Kildare to Francis Allen in consideration of payment of €10.

 

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Heydon, seconded by Councillor Miley, that pursuant to Section 183 of the Local Government Act 2001 that the Council consent to the disposal of the land in accordance with the terms set out in the statutory notice.

 

 

4/1210

Declaration of a Public Road

 

The meetings administrator referred to a report dated 30 November 2010 from the Transportation Department recommending that the R415 Nurney Road at Kildare Retail Village be declared a public road.

 

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor O’Donnell, seconded by Councillor Kennedy, that, in accordance with Section 9 of the Road Traffic Act 2004, the R415 Nurney Road at Kildare Retail Village be declared a public road.

 

 

5/1210

Housing Report

 

At the Mayor’s suggestion it was agreed to consider the following motion from Councillor McGinley together with the housing report:

 

That a report be given to the council on how it is proposed to spend the €600,000 allocated to this council in 2010 for the retrofitting of council houses.

 

The motion was proposed by Councillor Byrne in Councillor McGinley’s absence.

Mr Minnock presented the housing report setting the current position in relation to the main construction/acquisition programme, capital loans and subsidy scheme.  In relation to the capital assistance scheme he stated that a claim had been submitted to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and it was expected that this would be paid by the year end. 

 

In relation to the €600,000 allocated in 2010 for retrofitting of council houses, Mr Minnock confirmed that this money, received under the Social Housing Investment Programme, was used for the retrofitting of voids/energy efficiency measures.  Recoupment is based on a maximum grant of 90% of the cost of works depending on the Building Energy Rating achieved in each case.  All vacant units repaired were funded between 75% and 90% of the cost of works with the balance coming from the Council’s own resources.  Prior to the works, most units were achieving Building Energy Ratings averaging D and E.  Following the completion of works, most units have been upgraded to a C1 rating.  It is intended to continue the scheme in 2011, funding permitting.

 

Referring to the number of vacant houses, which is at the lowest level for three years, Mr Minnock acknowledged the work of the housing staff who are dealing with this issue.  He also outlined the current position in relation to the RAS scheme, stating that there should be 339 units included in the scheme by the year end, and set out the position in relation to the housing grants. 

 

Mr Minnock briefed the members in relation to the Land Aggregation Scheme stating that a proposal to include the following lands under this scheme is recommended:

 

Location

Hectares

Loan Balance

@ 31.12.2010 [€]

Nurney

4.16

811,311.02

Bonaghmor, Rathangan

4.00

1,223,643.14

Butterstream, Clane

8.49

3,518,973.63

Craddockstown, Naas

7.93

4,722,593.28

Collaghknock, Kildare (A)

1.33

1,145,638.30

Collaghknock, Kildare (B)

2.67

1,995,324.00

Brallistown, Kildare

4.04

1,886,087.70

 

32.62 (80 acres)

15,303,571.07

 

 

Mr Minnock informed the members that he would be presenting formal Section 183 statutory notices for disposal of these lands in January 2011.  The legalities related to the land at Craddockstown will be determined in advance of the January meeting.

 

The members raised a number of issues including a request for information to be circulated with regard to the purchase and leasing schemes currently available, clarification as to whether any properties were coming through the Part V system, confirmation in relation to recent allocation of houses in Celbridge, breakdown requested as to location of houses under the acquisition programme, confirmation of timeframe in relation to proposed Part VIII for traveller accommodation in Newbridge.  Progress in relation to the turnaround of vacant houses was welcomed, together with the proposals for phasing of regeneration work in St Patrick’s Park, Rathangan.  Councillor Moore raised concern in relation to the inclusion of the lands at Craddockstown in the aggregation scheme, as this would limit the ability of the local authority to provide social housing in Naas.  He was also concerned that the local authority was carrying the cost of loan repayments in relation to land that was bought, at the request of Respond, for housing accommodation.  Councillor Moore proposed that Kildare County Council would not deal with Respond in relation to the provision of housing in the future.  This proposal was seconded by Councillor Griffin who also raised concerns in relation to the cost to the council of repayment of a loan for the land at Craddockstown. 

 

Mr Minnock replied to the issues raised. 

 

Resolved that the report be noted and on the proposal of Councillor Griffin, seconded by Councillor Langan, that the inclusion of the lands referred to above in the land aggregation scheme, be approved.

 

 

6/1210

Mayor's Business

 

The Mayor and members wished Councillor O’Loughlin well in her position as group leader for the Fianna Fail members in the Chamber.  Councillor O’Loughlin thanked the Mayor, members and Manager for their kind remarks. 

 

The Mayor, members and Manager thanked all the council staff who have been working unsociable hours in very inclement conditions dealing with the severe weather conditions.  The Manager also thanked the Gardai, Army, Civil Defence and all involved on the severe weather emergency team for the contributions made.  He thanked the Mayor and members for the work they had attended to over the year and for the partnership approach taken in dealing with issues that arise.  A number of members suggested that, given the difficulty in ensuring that adequate salt supplies were available to deal with the snow, the council source its own salt supply in addition to that available from the NRA.  Councillor Callaghan suggested that another mechanism, in addition to local radio, was needed to inform the public of reduction in water pressure.


 

At the Mayor’s suggestion it was agreed to take the following motion from Councillor Miley at this stage:

 

Kildare County Council work with farming and construction agencies to put a coordinated plan in place to work immediately in adverse weather conditions such as heavy snow fall to activate personnel and machinery to clear the roads at the earliest possible time. Most members of the farming community would have machinery that’s in a position to clear the snow as it falls. The fear is out there that they would be held liable if anything was to happen. We need to remove this fear by meeting with the leaders of their organizations and clearing this issue with them. The goodwill that has been shown in the past fortnight is evidence of this.

 

In proposing this motion Councillor Miley stated that there was a large rural population in the county that needed assistance during periods of severe weather and he suggested that the farming and construction agencies would be in a position to help, if they were satisfied that there would be no issues of liability arising from the work carried out.  This proposal was seconded by Councillor S Doyle.

 

Councillor S Doyle requested that consideration be given to allocating some of the additional monies received from the Local Government Fund towards leak detection, in an effort to sustain the good record of the council in dealing with this issue.  Whilst noting that there is still a reduction in the Local Government Fund allocation of 6%, the members welcomed that some additional funding had been provided over what had been expected. 

 

The Mayor asked members to support the sale of a CD, which was recorded by the Curragh Choir and Kildare County Council’s Choir, with proceeds being donated to the Hospice at the Jockey Hospital on the Curragh.  The Mayor also reminded members that the council choir would be holding a lunchtime concert in the Council Chamber on Thursday, 23rd December and everyone was welcome to attend.

 

Councillor Griffin read correspondence that had been received from the Commission for Energy Regulation in response to a letter from the Celbridge Area Committee in relation to assisting customers to manage debt and, thereby, avoid disconnection.  The correspondence sets out the guidelines to be followed by energy providers in relation to the disconnection of a customer.

 

The Mayor and members wished John Martin, Caretaker, a speedy recovery following his recent illness.

 


 

7/1210

Votes of Sympathy

 

The Mayor and members expressed sympathy with the following:

 

Mary O’Toole, Building Control and Niamh O’Toole, Environment Department, on the death of her mother/grandmother.

 

 

8/1210

Conferences

 

The administrator confirmed that the following list of upcoming Conferences had been considered by the Group Leaders in the Chamber and found to be suitable for attendance:

 

14 - 16 January 2011

European Legislation on Human Rights - The effects on Local Authority Housing Insurance Issues

The Kings Valley Hotel, Dublin Road, Galway

Approximate cost per delegate: €700

Nominations: 

 

 

21 - 23 January 2011

Crises Impacts on Ireland

Silver Tassie Hotel, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Approximate cost per delegate €800

Nominations: 

 

 

21 – 23 January 2011

Compliance with Planning Permission Enforcement of Conditions

The Kings Valley Hotel, Dublin Road, Galway

Approximate cost per delegate: €700

Nominations: 

 

 

21 - 23 January 2011

Professional Development for Councillors - “Time Management Success”

The Maritime Hotel, Bantry, Co Cork

Approximate cost per delegate: €900

Nominations: 

 

11 – 12 February 2011

AMAI Spring Seminar

Westlodge Hotel, Bantry, Co Cork

Approximate cost per delegate: €900

Nominations: 

 

 

9/1210

Correspondence

 

With the members agreement the Mayor decided to defer the correspondence to the next meeting.

 

 

10/1210

FAS Apprentices

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Griffin:

That we invite FAS to advise the council on the number of apprentices in Co. Kildare who area awaiting completion of their training courses and that we examine how best council can assist those apprentices seeking completion of their course.

 

Councillor Griffin raised concerns at the number of FAS apprentices in the county who are awaiting completion of their training courses and he asked that the council assist in any way possible, as the apprentices needed their final certification in order to progress to employment.

 

The meetings administrator stated that the council understood that this issue was being discussed at national level, however, indicated that the council would be prepared to provide support in any way possible.

 

 

11/1210

Development Bonds

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Murphy:

That the council be advised as to the extent of the bonds held by Kildare County Council as a guarantee that works will be completed within housing estates in Kildare?  What is involved in calling in bonds, where appropriate?  How many estates are likely to be taken in charge in this way?  How many developers are looking for their bonds back?

 

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department advising that the Building Control Section is currently reviewing all of the private residential estates in the county.  This assessment will provide a basis for forming a strategy to deal with finished, unfinished and abandoned estates. 

 

Where a developer has failed to complete the infrastructure in the estate within the life of the planning permission, or where the provision of the infrastructure has not kept pace with the rate of house construction, the initial response is to commence enforcement procedures prior to calling in the bond.  However, if the Council is of the view that the bond could expire before the enforcement procedures are likely to be concluded, the bond is called in straight away. 

 

Councillor Murphy raised concerns at the disproportionately large number of unfinished estates in the county waiting to be taken in charge and noted that in a number of incidents all that was required was submission of “as constructed drawings”.  She stated that a report in relation to this matter was awaited for some time and requested confirmation as to whether there was an issue of resources within the Planning Department that was delaying the completion of this work.  She asked that, if this is the case, that the matter be addressed. 

 

 

12/1210

Register of Electors

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor McGinley:

 

That new entries to the draft Register of Electors and any FRA 1 forms submitted between 1 and 25 November be automatically included in the Supplementary Register in the event of an election being called between 1 November and 15 February 2011.

Councillor Purcell proposed this motion in Councillor McGinley’s absence, stating that every assistance should be provided to help people get on to the Register of Electors.

 

The meetings administrator advised the members that it is not possible to include data from new-entry or RFA1 forms in the supplementary register.  Each application for the supplement must be submitted individually by the person concerned with the applicant’s signature witnessed by a garda, who must satisfy him/herself as to the identity of the applicant.  An application for entry to the draft, or list of claims, does not have to meet these criteria and so cannot be used to add a name to the supplement.

 


 

13/1210

Planning Applications

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor S Doyle:

That the County Manager provide to the members the following information:

(a)       the total number of planning applications received by the council in the first 6 months of 2010 and

(b)       a breakdown of those applications into the following categories; (i) once off rural houses (ii) individual housing applications in towns or villages (iii) multiple housing applications (iv) extensions to existing houses (v) commercial/ retail/industrial (vi) any other and that the Manager further supply the comparable data for the first 6 months of 2005.

 

That the Manager further indicate the percentage of each category of development was granted, refused or had further information raised during the 6 months period in each reference year and if he will consequently indicate the average period of time currently being taken by the council to process each application category.

 

The meetings administrator referred to a detailed report from the Planning Department, including tables setting out a comparison between 2005 and 2009 statistics.  In addition, the report confirmed that a total of 667 applications were received from 1 January to 30 June 2010, with a total of 1,528 applications received for the same period in 2005.

 

Councillor S Doyle noted an anomaly in the report relating to the number of individual houses granted/refused in 2009, with 10% of decisions unaccounted for.  The meetings administrator agreed to clarify this issue with the Planning Department.

 

 

14/1210

Attendance at Conferences

The council considered the following motion in the names of Councillors Murphy, McEvoy, Kennedy and Moore:

Notwithstanding that Kildare County Council has limited the current conference budget to 64% of the national guidelines it is proposed that in the interests of enhanced transparency and accountability, for compliance with the Local Government Act (2001) and for clarity that the following be amended to the protocol rules:   

1.         Conference events are approved according to written guidelines available to all members.

2.         Payment of conference attendance expenses are subject to the agreed event being listed in recorded minutes of full council meetings.


 

3.         Payment of conference/seminar attendance expenses are subject to a nomination to the event from a full council meeting with a record in the minutes; or alternatively in writing from a group leader and with record in the subsequent full council meeting minutes. Nominations should address the potential benefit to the county council and how the potential information/knowledge is currently unavailable from services within Kildare County Council.

4.         The Council will publish an annual report on attendances of conferences/training seminars, the associated expenses incurred for attendance, travel and subsistence; the attendees and their reports submitted.

5.         The conference report form is amended to include;

(a)       conference papers where provided

(b)       the title/content and who made the presentation

(c)        suggest how the conference could be useful to the work of Kildare County Council  i.e. if the conference dealt with new methods of disposing of waste, then the  Environment SPC should be furnished with the papers.

 

At the Mayor’s suggestion it was agreed that this matter be referred to the Protocol Committee for further consideration.

 

Resolved that this matter be referred to the Protocol Committee for further consideration.

 

 

15/1210

Severe Weather Patterns

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Nolan:

For any future severe weather patterns that the council request the Department of Transport/Environment to issue instructions to the Gardai to reduce the speed limits on all roads affected.

 

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department advising that, currently, there is no legislative framework which would allow the Gardai to reduce speed limits instantly.  Any change in speed limits, even on a temporary basis due to roadworks, needs to go through a statutory process. 

 

Councillor Nolan noted the content of the report, however, he stated that in the UK motorway signage allows for changes in speed limits to be introduced dependent on conditions, including weather.  He suggested that such a “best practice policy” should be introduced in this country.


 

16/1210

Sugar Beet Processing

 

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Heydon:

The recent report from the European Court of Auditors on EU Sugar Market Reform acknowledged that the policy decision to end sugar production in Ireland was an error and creates an opportunity for the construction of a new sugar beet plant in Ireland. Given the established suitability of lands in Kildare for beet growing, the vast experience of farmers in the county with beet production and the strategic central location of south Kildare to the beet growing areas in South Leinster and North Munster that Kildare County Council consider funding a feasibility study for the construction of a state of the art sugar beet processing plant in the county. Any such study should include the possibility of ethanol and beet pulp production as value added processes, and a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) energy plant as part of the development. Such a plant would create significant direct employment in South Kildare and give a welcome boost to agriculture employment and incomes in the wider area. 

 

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department advising that the council welcomes all appropriate employment investment in the county and manufacturing based on use of indigenous materials is particularly welcome.  Given the historical position of beet growing in the county, it would seem that Kildare has some natural advantage in this regard.  The current proposal to include harvesting biomass, as a value added part of a sugar production process, may address some of the issues set out in the Greencore decision to close the Mallow plant in 2006.  Consideration should be given to a regional approach to such a venture, incorporating South Kildare (especially Athy), Carlow, North Kilkenny and Laois to provide the mass of product to create a viable entity.  The motion calls on the council to fund the preparation of a feasibility study.  The council, through Planning and Economic Development, will proactively support such a study.  The question of funding such a study at this stage is not feasible, given current funding constraints.

 

Councillor Heydon stated that it was now clear that the production of sugar beet in this country should never have stopped.  He referred to a meeting that has been arranged for 13 January 2011 to promote a combined regional campaign to return to growing beet.  He added that south Kildare has all the requirements to base a sugar beet processing industry and he welcomed that the council would be pro-active in supporting the preparation of a feasibility study.

 

A number of members spoke in favour of this motion.

 


 

17/1210

Presentation to Judge Paul Kelly

 

The Mayor welcomed Judge Paul Kelly to the Chamber and wished him well in his new position as Judge of the District Court.  He stated that Judge Kelly would be a huge loss to the Council and noted the enormous contribution he had made during the course of his time as an elected member, both of Leixlip Town Council and Kildare County Council.

 

On behalf of the Fine Gael members, Councillor Griffin said that Judge Kelly had been a good colleague and he found him to be courteous, friendly and prepared to listen.  His valuable advice was always appreciated.  He wished him success, health and happiness in his new position.

 

On behalf of the Fianna Fail members, Councillor O’Loughlin said that Judge Kelly was extremely committed in his position as a public representative.  He was always fair and did his best to do the right thing, regardless of political affiliation.  He was a tremendous leader for the Fianna Fail members in the Chamber and would be missed.

 

On behalf of the Labour Party members, Councillor Purcell said that both he and Judge Kelly were elected to Leixlip Town Council on the same day in 1988.  He acknowledged the great work that he had done for Leixlip, with particular reference to the town improvement scheme and twinning.  He wished him well in his new position, adding that it was a wonderful achievement.

 

On behalf of the independent members, Councillor Murphy stated that she had also been elected to Leixlip Town Council on the same day as Judge Kelly in 1988.  She said that Judge Kelly had been the driving force behind the town improvement scheme in Leixlip for many years.  She said that he had demonstrated how local politics should work at its best and wished him well for the future. 

 

The Manager extended congratulations on behalf of the management and staff to Judge Kelly, and wished him well on his appointment as a Judge of the District Court.  He acknowledged that Judge Kelly was held in high esteem by the members and staff.  He said that he had made a significant contribution to local politics.

 

The Mayor invited Judge Kelly to address the Chamber.

 

Judge Kelly addressed the meeting, stating that he never thought that he would attend the Council Chamber under such circumstances.  He was deeply honoured and grateful and acknowledged the good wishes and kind thoughts of the members and the Manager.  He said he was heartened by the number of well wishers who had contacted him in recent days.  He thanked all the members of the Council, both past and present, with whom he had served and he paid tribute to the Manager and staff for their assistance during his time as a member of the Council.  He thanked the people of Kildare who had taken the time to vote for him, allowing him to take up a position as a public representative in both Leixlip Town Council and Kildare County Council.  He said that it had been an honour to serve as a public representative.  He added that he will look back with fondness on his time as a member of the town and county council.  He said the experience had been positive and he had learned a lot and gained a lot. 

 

The Mayor wished the members, Manager and staff a very happy and safe Christmas and the meeting concluded.

 

_________________________