THE planning office of Ennis Town Council is set to move to Aras Contae an Chlair in the new year. Town manager Ger Dollard has stated that the relocation is being made “out of necessity” as the council strives to make better use of resources.
He has insisted that this does not affect the town council’s role as a planning authority and that delivery of service to the customer is of “paramount importance”.
He was responding as Councillor Mary Howard voiced concern about the move in light of proposals to abolish town councils. This was echoed by Councillor Johnny Flynn who described it as “turkeys voting for Christmas”.
However, Mr Dollard commented, “The councillors will be aware of the significant reductions in staff that have occurred within all Clare local authorities. Ennis Town Council has endeavoured to maintain all services to a high standard.
“The current situation requires that maximum efficiencies be generated through the pooling of staff to ensure services can be maintained within an anticipated further reduction in the level of resources. Of paramount importance in the council’s consideration is the delivery of service to the customer.
“From a planning department perspective the service from Ennis Town Council has recently been enhanced with the introduction of the IPLAN system, which is now available over the internet. This ensures that the public can access all planning applications on line without the need to visit the offices of Ennis Town Council.”
He went on, “As part of the overall management of council services, it is necessary that the dual service provision at town – county level be integrated to achieve better efficiencies from available resources.
“The location of Aras Contae an Chlair at New Road ensures that the planning service can still be easily accessed in the event that members of the public require to visit the planning office directly.”
Mr Dollard insisted, “The location of the planning service does not in any way affect Ennis Town Council in its role as planning authority nor in any way affect the statutory reserved functions of the elected members of Ennis Town Council, as a planning authority.”
He concluded, “The statutory responsibility for management and deployment of staff rests with executive. The revised arrangements will ensure continuity of a high standard of service. It is expected that the new location for the Ennis Town Council planning service will be in operation from mid January 2013.”