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KILDARE COUNTY COUNCIL

Minutes of Monthly Meeting
held at 2.00 p.m. on Monday, 29 March 2010 at
Áras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co Kildare

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

Apologies:  Councillors L Doyle, P MacNamara and M Miley

Also Present: Mr M Malone, County Manager, Messrs J Boland (Director of Services), Mr M O’Leary (Acting Director of Services), B Sweeney (Acting Head of Finance), C Talbot (Meetings Administrator) and other officials.

_________________________

1/0310
Confirmation of Minutes

The council considered the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 22 February 2010, adjourned meeting held on 1 March 2010 and special meeting held on 8 March 2010, together with the progress report. 

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Byrne, seconded by Councillor Kennedy, that the minutes of the monthly meeting held on 22 February 2010, adjourned meeting held on 1 March 2010 and special meeting held on 8 March 2010 be confirmed and taken as read.


2/0310
Committee Minutes

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

Athy Area – 18 January 2010 and 15 February 2010
Celbridge Area – 14 January 2010
Kildare Area – 20 January 2010
Naas Area – 19 January 2010 and 16 February 2010 

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


3/0310
Disposal of land

0.0003 ha. at Toll Plaza M4, M4 Motorway, Cappagh Hill, Kilcock
The council considered statutory notice dated 8 March 2010, which had been circulated to the members under Section 183 of Local Government Act 2001 signifying intent to dispose of 0.0003 ha. at Toll Plaza M4, M4 Motorway, Cappagh Hill, Co Kildare to the Electricity Supply Board, in consideration of payment of €10 and subject to all legal fees incurred by the Council to be paid by the Electricity Supply Board.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Kennedy, seconded by Councillor McEvoy, 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


4/0310
Appointments to Strategic Policy Committees

The council considered report dated 19 March 2010 from the administrator regarding nominations to strategic policy committees as follows:

Housing Mr Liam O’Brien, Headfort Properties Ltd, Springfield House, Osberstown, Naas
Transportation, Safety and  Mr Sean Darcy, CMILT, DSV Ireland, Unit C8, Tougher
Emergency Services  Business Park, Ladytown, Naas
Ms Miriam O’Brien, Road Safety Matters, Millrace Lawns, Broadford
Water and Environmental Mr Allan Shine, Suite 10, Osprey Business Campus,
Services    Devoy Quarter, Naas
Planning and Economic  Mr Robert Mehigan, Kealy Mehigan, Tara Court, Dublin
Development   Road, Naas
Mr David O’Reilly, O’Reilly Recruitment, 7 The Court, Main Street, Newbridge
Councillor Damien Molyneaux, Newbridge Town Council [Appointment to end at 30 April 2012]
Councillor Emma Kiernan, Newbridge Town Council [Appointment to be from 1 May 2012 to date of local elections in 2014].
Community and Cultural  Ms Sinead Heneghan, IITD, 4 Sycamore House,
Services    Millennium Park Naas

The administrator advised the members that it was the intention of Newbridge Town Council to split the term between two councillors.  In addition to the above it is further recommended that Councillor Ann Breen, Naas Town Council, fill the remaining position on the Housing Strategic Policy Committee.

In response to a query from Councillor Weld in relation to appointments to the Monuments Committee, the administrator confirmed that the Monuments Committee will be a sub-committee of the Planning and Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee.  The final nominees to this committee are before the members for consideration today and it is intended to list the nominations to the Monuments Committee on the agenda for the April Council meeting.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor S Doyle, seconded by Councillor Kennedy, that the appointments to the Strategic Policy Committees, outlined in report dated 19 March 2010, be agreed.


05/0310
Audit Committee Annual Report 2009

Resolved that the Audit Committee Annual Report 2009 be noted.


06/0310
Material Contravention of the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011

The council noted that a planning application from James Fagan (register no 09/597) would, if successful, result in a material contravention of the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011

The development would consist of a 53-bed nursing home plus ten associated sheltered housing units, a services building for heating, electric power, water and fuel storage, a new road access junction, access road and roundabout from R401 Kildare/Rathangan public road, a sewage pumping station connected to the local authority system, car parking facilities and associated development works at Rathangan Demesne, Rathangan, Co Kildare.
 
The development would contravene materially section 6.7.6 - OD1 of the Kildare County   Development Plan 2005-2011 which states: Apart from housing development there are other land uses which may be considered in the rural countryside.  Where an area is not within an identifiable settlement and is not otherwise zoned as part of this development plan or of any of the town development plans the use of such land will be deemed to be primarily agricultural.


The Council also considered a report dated 23 March 2010 from the County Manager, which had been circulated to the members.  Ms A Brangan, Senior Executive Planner, stated that one submission, from An Taisce, had been received during the four week consultation period.  She added that, notwithstanding that the development is located primarily on unzoned lands (apart from the entrance and a section of the access roadway, which is zoned Objective H Agriculture in the Rathangan Local Area Plan 2002) and is located in excess of 1,000m from the town centre, it could be considered that the development would be located at the edge of the centre of Rathangan, but not remote from the urban fabric associated with the town.  The proposed Draft County Development Plan (Chapter 11) notes that facilities should be located close to community and social facilities required by the occupants.  The report proposed the omission of the ten sheltered housing units as no suitable rationale for this element of the development had been identified.

A number of members spoke in favour of the development including the ten sheltered housing units.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor O’Loughlin, seconded by Councillor Nolan, with all 22 members present voting in favour, that a decision to grant planning permission be made in this case, incorporating the proposed ten sheltered housing units, and that for that purpose the council consent to a material contravention of the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011.


07/0310
Eastern District River Basin Management Plan
South-Eastern District River Basin Management Plan

Mr Boland introduced Mr Ray Spain, Project Co-ordinator, South-Eastern District, Mr Ray Earl, Project Co-ordinator, Eastern District, Ms Dawn Keating, CDM Consultants [East Region] and Mr Des Boyham, GIS Co-ordinator [East Region] and invited Mr Spain to make a presentation to the members.  Mr Spain set out the background to the preparation of the River Basin Management Plans making reference to the Water Policy Regulations and the 11 existing EU directives.  He stated that implementation of the directives will assist in meeting the requirements of the Water Policy Regulations.  He highlighted the public consultation process which had been undertaken and set out the overall objectives for the Plans.  He added that collection of relevant data had played a big part in informing the Plans and advised the members that back-up documentation was available on their website at www.wfdireland.ie.
 

Mr Boland stated that full copies of each of the Plans had been circulated to the members and that this issue had been considered at a number of meetings of the Water and Environmental Services Strategic Policy Committee, including a recent special meeting of the SPC.  He noted, however, that the members wished more time to consider the reports before them and that is was intended to defer this item for further consideration at a later date. 

The members requested clarification in relation to a number of issues including concerns raised by the Irish Farmer’s Association, particularly with regard to the Nitrates Directive, access to minutes of meetings together with comments of other agencies involved in the process which might assist in considering the Plans, necessity to have a capital budget in place to implement the objectives and confirmation of the situation with regard to fines for not adopting Plans within the required timeframe.  The members also requested clarification as to Ireland’s position in relation to adoption of the Plans when compared to other EU countries and, given that the Advisory Council had not been reformulated following last year’s local elections, who was now presenting the plans for consideration.  Confirmation was also requested as to whether amendments could be made to the Plans at this stage in the process.  

Mr Earl and Mr Spain replied to the queries raised by the members, addressing the issue raised in relation to the Nitrates Directive adding that, while it was not possible to amend the Plans at this stage, the Programme of Measures could be amended to reflect the change to this directive.  They outlined the involvement of the Advisory Council and also the public consultation process. 

Resolved that a special meeting of the Council will be held on Friday, 9 April 2010 at 2pm to consider this matter further.  It was also agreed that any issues the members wished to have clarified would be made known to Mr Boland in advance of the meeting.


8/0310
Votes of Sympathy

The Mayor and members expressed sympathy with the following on their recent bereavements:

Davy Dalton, Revenue Collector, Finance Department, on the death of his father.
The family of the late Peter Clarke, retired Engineer, Kildare County Council.
David O’Grady, NRDO, on the death of his father.

9/0310
Mayor’s Business

The Mayor expressed his thanks to the Kildare Association in New York for their invitation to attend the recent St Patrick’s Day Parade, adding that he was proud and privileged to have undertaken the trip.  He stated that the Kildare Association are very determined to maintain their links with Kildare County Council and sent their regards to the members, County Manager and staff.

On Saturday, 27th March, the new road safety vehicle, donated by Sheehy Motors, had been launched.  He added that a very good presentation had been made by Declan Keogh, Road Safety Officer.  The Manager wished to be associated with thanking Sheehy Motors and Declan Keogh, adding that the new vehicle would assist in promoting and highlighting road safety.

He offered his congratulations to the Bradán Players, Leixlip, on winning a national award.

On Thursday, 25th March, presentations had been made to long serving and retired staff of Kildare County Council. 

Councillor Lawlor suggested that the Council considering acknowledging sporting achievements by people in the county.  It was agreed that this issue would be considered further by the Protocol Committee.


10/0310
Correspondence

The council noted receipt of the following correspondence:

• Letter from the Minister for Housing and Local Services, acknowledging receipt of our letter in connection with the policy on leasing houses for social housing.  Noted.
• Letter from the Minister for Education and Science, acknowledging receipt of our letter in connection with Special Needs Assistants.  Noted.
• Letter from South Tipperary County Council calling on the Minister for Health and Children to reverse the HSE’s decision to centralise all medical card processing to the PCRS offices in Dublin.  Noted.

 

11/0310
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:

16 April 2010
BMW Regional Assembly
“Promoting Growth and Jobs in Ireland’s Regions”
Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan
Approximate cost per delegate: €400

23 – 25 April 2010
Conference for Councillors on Professional Development
“Key strategies for greater success in a challenging economic climate”
Connemara Coast Hotel, Furbo, Galway
Approximate cost per delegate:  €750

29 April 2010
Transport Ireland 2010
“Exploring Ireland’s Transport Future”
Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin 3
Approximate cost per delegate: €400

13 – 14 May 2010
Maximising the tourism potential of Heritage Towns
The Mall Arts Centre, Youghal, Co Cork
Approximate cost per delegate: €700

28 – 29 May 2010
Defamation Seminar for Councillors
Patrick Punch Hotel, Limerick
Approximate cost per delegate: €550

In response to a question from Councillor Murphy the administrator confirmed that the members will be notified of any Conference reports and papers received to date this year.  He added that the issue of attendance at Conferences was due to be considered further at the next meeting of the Protocol Committee on 26 April 2010.  In response to a query requesting that information be made available electronically to the members, the administrator advised that the issue of electronic communication was also due to be discussed at the next meeting of the Protocol Committee.

 

12/0310
Payment of Grants

The members considered a report from the Planning Department dated 19 March 2010
relating to the payment of grants to The Presbytery, Ballymore Eustace in the sum of €500,
Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers Club in the sum of €5,500 and Ballymore
Eustace Tidy Towns in the sum of €5,500.  The grants arise from a levy attaching to a
planning permission in Ballymore Eustace for the rehabilitation of a site used for sand and
gravel extraction.  The report noted that the grants had been approved by the members of
the Naas Area Committee at their meeting on 16 March 2010.

The members considered a further report from the Planning Department relating to payment
of grants arising from a levy attaching to a planning permission for the Arthurstown landfill
facility as follows:

• St John’s Church of Ireland, Kill     €  7,000
• Rathmore Youth and Community Development Association €11,000
• St Colmcille’s Church of Ireland     €  3,000
• Eadestown GAA       €20,000
• Kilteel Parish Hall       €  8,000
• Eadestown Muintir na Tire      €10,000
• Earlscourt Committee       €  5,000
• Kill Tidy Towns       €40,000
• Green Schools Committee, Scoil Bhride    €  1,100
• St Patrick’s Park, Kill       €  3,000
• Glendara Residents Association     €  7,000
• Kill Musical and Dramatic Society     €  3,500
• Scoil Cheile Chriost, Rathmore     €  6,000
• Kill Johnstown GAA       €20,000
• Kilteel/Eadestown Comhaltas     €  5,000
• The Gables Residents Association     €  3,000
• Eadestown Tidy Towns      €  1,300
• Riverlawns Residents Association     €  3,500

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Lawlor, seconded by Councillor Callaghan, that the grants outlined above be paid.
 


13/0310
Road Adoption Scheme

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Moore:
That Kildare County Council, like many other authorities, would undertake to support a road adoption scheme for simple litter control by volunteer businesses, on approach roads into towns, in return for small promotional advertisements in favour of those businesses.

The meetings administrator reported that this proposal warranted consideration by both the Water and Environmental Services and Transportation Strategic Policy Committees, as it represents a significant change in policy.

Councillor Moore was disappointed with this report as he felt that it would take longer for the matter to be considered and supported by the members and stated that he was not a member of either of the Strategic Policy Committee’s involved.  The administrator confirmed that it would be possible for Councillor Moore to attend the meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee’s when this issue was being discussed.

Resolved that this motion be considered by both the Water and Environmental Services and Transportation Strategic Policy Committees.


14/0310
Maintenance of Rented Properties

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Moore:
That Kildare County Council now immediately:
Create a public awareness and publicise the arrangements by which new legislation will be enforced on landlords/house owners to keep their rented properties to at least the standards of the owner/occupied homes of the area.

The meetings administrator read a report from the Housing Department stating that the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 attempts to ensure that private rented properties comply with more stringent minimum regulation standards.  The sanctions provide for the issuing of Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices on foot of breaches of the minimum regulation standards by landlords.  Kildare County Council has a service agreement with the HSE to carry out inspections to private rented properties, and where a particular property causes concern, details will be forwarded to the HSE for immediate inspection and report.  On receipt of the report, the appropriate action will be taken, namely, the issuing of an Improvement Notice, and subsequently a Prohibition Notice, which will direct the landlord not to re-let the property until the breach of regulations is rectified.

Councillor Moore noted the content of the report and requested that a copy be circulated for information.  In proposing the motion he noted that, in some instances, rented properties are inadequately maintained and the tenants, in a lot of cases, are not making subscriptions to residents associations towards the maintenance and upkeep of the estate.  Councillor McEvoy seconded the motion.  Councillor Murphy stated that the focus of the Tenancy Board seems to be on the interior, rather than the exterior, of the property.  In supporting the motion Councillor McGinley suggested that if a pilot project was being proposed that Maynooth be considered for inclusion.

Councillor Kelly requested that reports in response to motions at full Council be circulated in advance to members for consideration, in line with the practice for area committee meetings.  The administrator agreed that this practice would be introduced for Council meetings.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Moore, seconded by Councillor McEvoy that Kildare County Council now immediately create a public awareness and publicise the arrangements by which new legislation will be enforced on landlords/house owners to keep their rented properties to at least the standards of the owner/occupied homes of the area.


15/0310
Report on Development Levies

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor O’Donnell:
That Kildare County Council provide a report on development levies in the county where the amounts are more than 12 months overdue.

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department stating that the total outstanding realisable balance per the Annual Financial Statement at the 31 December 2008 is €24,425,189.54, of which €8,461,879.40 was collected in 2009, and €1,872,121.70 has been collected up to 25 March, 2010.  The remaining balance of €14,091,188 is due to be collected in the year 2010 and onwards.

The report referred to a survey of the top 50 developments carried out during the period February/March 2009 to determine if work had commenced on site and the extent of work that had taken place.  That survey provided a “health check” in relation to the likelihood of a development proceeding and the timescale for completion.  A similar survey is currently underway.  The local authority records show that the top 50 development sites attracting development levies in the county account for 72% of all amounts outstanding at 31 December 2008.  The report set out some of the reasons for the lag between levies due and levies collected.

A pilot system for recovery of a limited number of outstanding and overdue levies through the Courts is currently being implemented in order to evaluate the procedure being followed in advance of future large-scale implementation.  Meetings are also being held with the promoters of large scale developments with a view to agreeing a payment regime in situations where a developer can demonstrate undue financial hardship arising from the current strained trading/financial environment.

The Finance and Planning Departments are currently preparing and finalising the figures for period ending 31 December 2009.  Additional analysis of levy data will be available in Q2/Q3 2010 following the updating of the tracking/accounting software currently being used.  The figures for 2009 will be made available to the members in due course.

The administrator stated that, given the detail contained in the report, he would arrange to circulate a copy for the information of the members.

Councillor O’Donnell welcomed the detail contained in the report.  He requested clarification as to the amount of outstanding levies that could realistically be expected to be collected together with confirmation of the cash value of cases currently before the Courts.  He also requested clarification as to how many developers operating in the county were no longer trading.  Councillor Doyle suggested that consideration be given to accepting assets [e.g. property or land] in lieu of payment of development levies.  Councillor Kelly requested clarification in relation to the system for weeding out duplicate permissions in order to ensure that there was no double accounting of monies due.

Ms Sweeney replied to the issues raised by the members.

Resolved that the report be noted.


16/0310
Taking in Charge of Housing Estates

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor O’Donnell:
That Kildare County Council provide a report on housing estates in the county that have not been taken in charge and where the developer has ceased trading or gone into receivership, examinership or liquidation.

The meetings administrator read a report from the Planning Department stating that in April 2009 the members were presented with a comprehensive report on the status of every residential estate that has not yet been taken in charge.  Since the publication of the report a further nine residential estates have been taken in charge.  Other than that there has been no significant change in the status of these estates.  With regard to the estates included in the April 2009 report, the Building Control Section is only aware of two cases where the developer has gone into receivership, examinership or liquidation.  That report also identified an estate where a receiver had been appointed to manage the development.

In noting the report Councillor O’Donnell raised concerns with regard to the number of building firms ceasing to trade and suggested that this could raise significant issues for the Council in the future.  He requested clarification as to what system the Council was using to monitore the status of building companies in an effort to ensure that unfinished estates were not abandoned.  He acknowledged the work of the Building Control Section and referred, in particular, to assistance provided in dealing with issues arising in an estate in Kildangan.  Councillor McEvoy noted the efforts that were being made by the Building Control Section to take estates in charge where management companies are in place, however, he added that it was also important to ensure that estates where developers are in financial difficulty be taken in charge at the earliest opportunity.

Ms Sweeney replied to the issues raised by the members in relation to monitoring of the financial aspect of a business.  The Manager confirmed that the Building Control report of April 2009 would be revised and reissued for the information of the members.

Resolved that the Building Control report of April 2009 be revised and re-issued to members.


17/0310
Iarnrod Eireann Service

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Wall:
Kildare County Council calls on Iarnrod Eireann to immediately address the continuing problems with lack of carriages on the various lines that operate throughout the county, which are causing serious problems for the commuters of Kildare.

The meetings administrator stated that a letter could issue to Iarnrod Eireann if the members wished.

Councillor Wall read a letter he had received from a commuter setting out the difficulties being encountered in using the rail service from Athy to Dublin.  In proposing the motion he stated that a very serious situation is occurring on commuter routes and he welcomed the agreement of the Council to contact Iarnrod Eireann.

Councillor McEvoy referred to a presentation made by the National Transport Authority to the Regional Planning Authority.  He stated that a strategic view was needed in relation to the service required for the county and called on the Transportation Department to lobby Iarnrod Eireann in this regard.  Councillor S Doyle suggested that regular meetings be scheduled with Iarnrod Eireann in an effort to address issues.  Councillor Daly seconded the motion adding that this was an area of great concern for people using the rail service in the county.  Councillor Kelly suggested that the National Transport Authority be invited to address a meeting of the Council.  Councillor O’Donnell stated that the views of commuter groups should also be considered. 

The administrator suggested that this matter, together with the suggestions raised by the members, be referred to the Transportation Strategic Policy Committee for further consideration.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Wall, seconded by Councillor Daly, that a letter issue to Iarnrod Eireann calling on them to address the continuing problems with lack of carriages on the various lines that operate throughout the county, which are causing serious problems for the commuters of Kildare and that the matter be referred to the Transportation Strategic Policy Committee for further consideration.


18/0310
Shared Ownership Scheme

The council considered the following motion in the name of Councillor Scully:
That this Council urgently review its shared ownership scheme, where persons who have now become unemployed be given more options to repay their mortgages with reduced payments until their economic situations improve.

The meetings administrator read a report from the Finance Section stating that the terms and conditions of the Shared Ownership loans scheme were drawn up by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, therefore, only the Department can amend the scheme.  It will be very difficult, however, for the Department to amend the scheme as most loans have been taken out for a period of 30 years.  Of the remainder of the loans, the majority are for a period of 25 years.   If the scheme was amended to allow for extending the term, the age profile of any borrower, whose repayment period of years was increased, would have to be taken into account as there would be mortgage protection insurance implications for borrowers over the age of 65.

When section 34 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 is brought into force it will give the Council the statutory authority to make formal, short-term arrangements/ agreements with borrowers.  It is hoped that this section will come into force later in the year, in the interim this Council is happy to meet with any of our customers who want to discuss their current financial position. 
 

Councillor Scully noted the report, however, he stated that some people are suffering greatly in the current financial climate.  He added that the Council needs to take a sympathetic approach in dealing with people who have lost their jobs and consider allowing people to enter into agreements to make reduced payments. 

Councillor Wall stated that Section 34 has still not been considered by the Dail.  He noted that the Minister had suggested that local authorities deal flexibly with issues arising adding that Council officials had been forthcoming in assisting customers.  Councillor Murphy stated that, given that people who qualify for a Shared Ownership loan have already been refused a loan by a lending institution, the loss of an income was going to have a dramatic effect.  She asked that the Council deal with people who find themselves in this situation as flexibly as the current legislation will allow. 

Ms Sweeney responded to the issues raised, adding that a circular had been received from the Department relating to mortgage arrears.  Clarification has been requested from the Department in relation to this circular as it only deals with house repossession as opposed to repayment options.  She added that were Section 34 to be enacted it would allow the Council to agree payment schedules with customers.

Resolved that the report be noted.

____

The meeting concluded.