Wednesday 19 June 2019

Encouraging signs for the future says Hayes

Hayes cautions however on need for budget discipline

Paul Deering

Sligo County Council Chief Executive, Ciaran Hayes says that while the county is entering a period of growth there would still have to be discipline surrounding the budgets of the local authority.

He made the remarks as a new five year term of the Council will start next month following the Local Elections.

Mr Hayes cautions that it may be towards the end of the next Council term that some of the projects now being put into place will start bearing fruit.

"So, while things are improving, there are no quick fix solutions and it will take time to reverse the trends of recent years and decades," he warned.

He continued: "Sligo is entering a period of growth and the Council's priority for the next five years will be to stimulate that growth in collaboration with IT Sligo, IDA, Enterprise Ireland and other agencies."

He points to a strategic alignment that is positioning Sligo to deliver on national policy which has designated it as a growth centre.

"The Council has come through considerable challenges in recent years and is now advancing a range major infrastructure and other projects," he said, crediting the outgoing council members with making difficult budgetary decisions and a professional and committed staff "who have managed the finances in unprecedented circumstances while successfully progressing major strategic projects."

"The present Council has also been forward thinking," he said, citing the innovative partnership with IWAK (Knock) Airport as an example and pointing out that it's the first time an Irish Local Authority had taken a stake in an international airport.

As to the next five-year term of the Council, he envisages further innovation.

"Positive discussions have taken place with the Department and agencies such as the National Treasury Management Agency, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and the newly formed Land Development Agency with a view to using the Council's land portfolio to meet Sligo's growing housing demand, revitalising the main urban centre and developing further enterprise units.

"We aim to establish Sligo as a Smart City location and envisage new partnerships and deployment of different financial instruments to deliver on the Council's ambition.

"I look forward to working with the incoming Council on these and other initiatives as we bring Sligo into the new era of growth," he said.

Mr Hayes was keen to stress however that budgetary discipline will still be with us for some time to come.

He says that with the improving economy there is an energy and vibrancy around Sligo, but he cautions that it may be towards the end of the next Council term that some of the projects will start bearing fruit.

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Martin Baker, said he looked forward to growth in jobs and opportunities that were not available in the past, saying "for far too long the lack of jobs tested the very fabric of rural communities, closing vital local services, leaving the youth with no choice but to emigrate resulting in rural depopulation, loss of players to local clubs and a loss of hope in many cases. I am glad to see that after many difficult years, hope is beginning to return."

Sligo Champion