Wednesday 22 November 2017

'CCTV cams and private security'

Margaret Roddy

CCTV cameras are to be installed at the newly refurbished Woodland Park at the Inner Relief Road, and Louth County Council intends to employ a private security firm to police the site at an estimated cost of €100,000 a year.

The plans for the new site were revealed during the council's budget debate on Monday afternoon after Cllr. John McGahon raised the issue of the Traveller accommodation at Woodland Park.

Director of Housing, Joe McGuiness, said it is the council's intention to 'pro-actively manage' the site and Cllr. McGahon wondered what this meant. The Fine Gael representative said the current refurbishment is 'the third investment made by the council in this site and I would like to know how the council plans to manage it and whether there is an indication of the annual cost of protecting our investment?'

Mr McGuinness referred to the arson attack on the site the previous night and said: 'It will be properly managed. Everyone will have a tenancy agreement and if there is anti-social behaviour they will go through the process like every other tenant.

'In addition, there will be CCTV on the site and there will probably be a private security company. We will get a sense of how many hours are needed for them. It will be around €100,000 a year, 90% of this we will recoup from the department.

'It is our intention that from day one, it will be properly managed'.

Cllr McGahon asked whether the council envisaged a reduction in the security spend 'if things go well over the next few years', but Mr McGuinness replied: 'I think this will be the figure for the future. We want to put in place a safe environment and wouldn't reduce it. I can see that (security) continuing for as long as the site is occupied'.

Cllr. Maria Doyle said she was 'shocked' by the 'significant amount of taxpayers' money' that's going to be spent, though she said it was 'probably necessary on top of the money we have already spent'.

Cllr. Edel Corrigan said the it was 'only €11 an hour for an area that was under attack last night'.

Fears that the Department of Education might take the contract for developing the new Colaiste Cuchulainn post-primary school in Dundalk away from Louth County Council were voiced at the monthly meeting of the local authority on Monday.

Cllr Oliver Tully remarked that it must be disappointing for the people of Dundalk to see students in the LMTB college in Drogheda given that the sod for both colleges were turned at the same time but work had yet to start on the building of the Dundalk school.

Cllr Tomas Sharkey said it was his understanding that the Department of Education had corresponded with the Council and asked for all the paperwork to be done and had given a deadline to have a contractor on site last Friday and were minded to take the contract off the local authority if this didn't happen.

He was disappointed at the lack of progress to date and noted that the Department of Education had paid money to have St Mary's College, which last year wasn't fit for students, to be upgraded and was also paying a lease for the same building.

He wanted clarity regarding the context of the Department of Education's correspondence, saying he would be looking for details under a Freedom of Information request if he didn't get it.

'You can FOI it if you like,' Chief Executive Joan Martin replied, adding that it was a matter for the council executive and the Department of Education.

She also refuted any implication by him that the long delay was the fault of Louth County Council.

'It's really a matter for the executive to deal with,' she continued.

'That letter came out of nowhere', she stated, adding that both herself and Director of Service Frank Pentony had a meeting with officials from the Department about three weeks ago but the email had come from a different official.

'It's a matter for the Department of Education whether or not they wish the council to proceed with the contract,' she added.

'I don't like the flippant attitude of the Chief Executive,' said Cllr Sharkey.

Irish Independent

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