Friday 30 September 2016

Tipperary 'super council' has resulted in €3m saving for taxpayer

Published 16/09/2015 | 02:30

Alf Smiddy
Alf Smiddy

The merger of North and South Tipperary local authorities has yielded savings of €3m a year, a new report finds.

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But aspects of the amalgamation could have been better planned, including communicating with staff and taking their suggestions and views on board.

A report from the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) says that while the merger was successfully completed, with no disruptions to public services, there remains a sense among some staff that their "knowledge and know-how" is not valued.

The report, 'A Case Study of the Tipperary County Council Merger', also says it will be "many years" before a new organisation and culture is in place.

The study comes after it emerged that a plan to merge the two Cork local authorities into a 'super council' could be delayed for years amid threats by councillors to seek a judicial review over the proposal. Chairman of the review group which recommended the move, Alf Smiddy, is to stage special meetings with business groups in the county to address what he called "quite misinformed" reports about the changes.

The proposal follows the merging of three authorities, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary, with Environment Minister Alan Kelly establishing a working group to examine how the new arrangements are working.

However, IPA researchers have conducted an examination of the Tipperary merger, and found it was properly managed when it concluded in June last year.

Savings of €6.1m a year were projected over a period of time, but these are occurring at a "faster rate than anticipated". By February 2015, savings in excess of €3m had been achieved.

It added that there were some one-off costs, including expenditure on IT systems, office improvements and corporate branding amounting to €1.7m, which was "somewhat lower" than expected.

But it says it would have been "desirable" for senior management to meet with staff to discuss the merger, with communications "highly dependent" on email which had a "low level of effectiveness", and "even less value as a tool to inspire and enthuse staff in respect of change".

It concludes that the merger has been "successful to date".

Irish Independent

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