COUNCILS FACE THE CHOP
MINISTER PHIL HOGAN'S PROPOSALS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM
TOWN COUNCILS are facing the chop.
That's the blunt 'in a nutshell' synopsis of the broad-ranging local government reforms announced by Minister Phil Hogan last week, under the watching eye of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
In Wicklow, it means that hundreds of years of history of the Town Councils in Bray, Wicklow, Arklow and Greystones will come to an end, with all existing members losing their seats when the current local government term ends in 2014 and having only the option to run for an enlarged County Council instead, where there will be approximately 28 seats available instead of the current 24.
While many sitting Town and Borough Councillors are criticising the move, Minister Hogan insists it makes sound financial and organisational sense, for many and varied reasons.
Outling his ' Putting People First' programme last week, Minister Hogan said it would reduce the total number of councillors in the country from 1,627 to no more than 950, and bring savings of some €45 million per year.
' This sets to reform the system of local government from structures that are largely unchanged since 1898; to modernise the approaches to ensure more is delivered to the citizen and to build confidence in the local government sector by making it more accountable to the people it serves,' he said. ' This document represents fundamental re-imagining of the system and its sees local government leading economic, social and community development, as well as delivering efficient services that are good value. The overall programme will save the taxpayer over €420 million'.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also said the reforms are necessary.
' This government was elected with a strong mandate to deliver on radical reform for our economy, public services and our politics. That process must begin with the political system itself,' he said.
' The reduction in the number of councillors, the merger of certain county councils and the replacement of town councils with Municipal Districts is a necessary reform to increase the efficiency of local government and will ensure that taxpayers money is translated into the services people expect and deserve.'