Thursday 25 April 2019

Surprise over water capital office closure

Myles Buchanan

Wicklow County Council's decision to close the water services capital office has been criticised by Councillors who attended a recent Irish Water clinic.

Speaking at last Monday's meeting of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Joe Behan said he had been present at an Irish Water clinic held earlier in the morning where he was informed that the water services capital office in Wicklow was closed last September.

'If this decision was made then why weren't we informed of it?' asked Cllr Behan.

He added: 'According to Irish Water the closure has slowed down work on capital water sector projects in the county.'

Cllr Vincent Blake shared the same sentiments as Cllr Behan having also attended the Irish Water clinics.

'It now seems we have a problem with smaller schemes. Irish Water said it was a problem for them in terms of communication and getting work done because the council had closed down the office,' said Cllr Blake.

Cllr Sylvester Bourke and Cllr Pat Fitzgerald were two other attendees of the Irish Water clinics and also had reservations over the office closure.

'I raised an issue on the scheme in Avoca and was told nothing could happen because the council closed down the office and this was delaying the project,' stated Cllr Bourke.

'Irish Water made it clear that some projects would be delayed. We didn't raise the issue with them. They raised it with us and we were all very surprised. They were quite insistent that the closure was interfering with some small capital works,' said Cllr Fitzgerald.

In reply, Director of Services Michael Geaney said that Irish Water had been considering regionalising the capital offices to County Meath.

'Staff could come into the office and then be relocated out of the county. It started becoming an issue to keep staff in water services because there are ongoing discussions taking place between the Government, Irish Water and Councils about the future of Irish Water,' said Mr Geaney.

Wicklow County Council Chief Executive Frank Curran said Irish Water had given 'assurances' that they would provide staff and that small schemes are usually carried out by operations and maintenance staff. However, he vowed to revisit the decision to close the office if it proves to be an issue.

Wicklow People