Sunday 18 March 2018

City Hall foyer 'like a ghost town' as front desk closes

Customer service desk at Sligo City Hall
Customer service desk at Sligo City Hall

A DECISION to close the front desk at City Hall has shocked and angered Councillors.

The Mayor, Councillor David Cawley, and members are furious they were not informed or consulted over the move.

The move came just hours after the February monthly meeting – where County Manager, Hubert Kearns, and officials made no mention of it.

Customer service staff were transferred to the Finance and Planning section at the back of the building.

Councillors Veronica Cawley said this will leave the foyer of City Hall "like a ghost town".

It's believed the reception desk alone cost €20,000 when it was installed as part of a multi-million euro refurbishment.

The matter was raised at the February General Purposes(Planning) meeting by Councillor Declan Bree.

He said: "The Mayor and elected Councillors were not made aware of this significant decision.

"The elected Council was not consulted or advised.

"This is unacceptable."

"When visitors now entered City Hall they are faced with an empty and vacant customer service desk and have to search for staff at the rear of the building.

"It's been suggested the decision was made because of a shortage of staff.

"However, it's my information there has been no reduction in staff and customer service staff are not in line for retirement."

When asked to comment, the Borough Council stated: "The customer service desk in City Hall is relocated and is amalgamated with the planning and finance desk. Services to customers continues as normal.

Councillor Chris MacManus said such a closure was "unprecedented in any large statutory agency."

It was disconcerting for the first time visitor and gave a bad impression for locals and tourists.

Councillor Rosaleen O'Grady said: "Whoever signed this off hadn't the interest of Sligo at heart."

"A step too far", was how Councillor Jim McGarry described the decision.

No regard had been shown for staff, public representatives or the public.

Councillor McGarry said: "I would go so far as to say this should be reported to the Minister."

As other Councillors joined in condemnation of the move,the Mayor raised concerns over health and safety issues.

He queried what would happen in the event of a fire.

People could be "wandering around" without anyone knowing they were in the building.

It was agreed that the matter be placed on the March monthly agenda as a priority for further discussion when the County Manager and senior officials would be present.

Sligo Champion