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Councillor Gerry Flynn: “It is not rocket science to ensure that what councillors request is acted on.”

Clare councillors seek means to track progress of their work

CLARE County Council has been urged to provide a mechanism to help councillors track the progress on their public representations to the local authority, writes Dan Danaher.

Councillor Gerry Flynn has asked for the introduction of performance indicators for each Municipal District to monitor representations from elected members.

While several motions have been supported by councillors over the years, he claimed at a recent council meeting no substantial progress has occurred from the executive.

He called for a faster turnaround, particularly at municipal district level, in response to requests from councillors.

“Councillors carry out a very important role on behalf of their communities and require a timely response to their representations.

“It is not rocket science to ensure that what councillors request is acted on.”

Councillor Johnny Flynn said it is important to be able to demonstrate that representations from constituents, which form an integral part of local democracy, are acted upon efficiently.

Having tabled a motion on this issue previously, Councillor Cillian Murphy said it is very important to be able to track what happens once a council motion is passed.

Councillor Paul Murphy praised the introduction of the local authority app for councillors.

Councillor Ann Norton said it is frustrating when a request made for work to be done receives no response, so the councillor is left in the dark about what action has been taken.

Councillor Pat Burke said it was very disappointing over the summer months trying to get responses to emails due to annual leave, staff working from home and Covid-19.

“I found it very difficult to contact staff in some sections of the council over the summer months. I tried emailing sometimes to no avail, and text messaging. It was very disappointing with some sections not issuing any reply.

“I had a few issues, which were eventually sorted. I like to see more communication. It doesn’t take too long to acknowledge an email.”

Chief executive, Pat Dowling said councillors not getting an acknowledgement to their query should not be happening, stressing staff work hard to ensure representations were at least acknowledged.

Mr Dowling said it is important to be able to track all representations so councillors can have a record of what have been resolved and what is outstanding.

Senior Executive Officer, Ann Reynolds said representations are made in a number of ways by elected representatives – via telephone, email, the councillor app, or notice of motion at Municipal District and council meetings.

Formal representations at MD level are normally logged on the MD CRM and referred to the relevant engineer or supervisor for action.

Many informal representations received verbally are actioned outside of the CRM. This is the nature of the environment that MD staff work in.

The councillor app provides online access to members to log and track progress on their particular representations. There are varying levels of usage of the councillor app.

In this regard further support and training on use of the councillor app can be made available to
members if required.

Ms Reynolds outlined there is an ongoing review and integration of CRM in the council, and the council motions CRM will form part of this.

Work has been completed on the extraction of progress reports from the existing council motions CRM, which will be published shortly on the councillor extranet.

Members will be requested to provide feedback on these reports, which can be further adapted to meet members needs and will inform the design of the upgraded CRM system. Similar reports can be devised at MD level, and can be provided to members.

The management structure of the MDs was enhanced in 2019, by the appointment of a senior executive officer to each MD, who is a point of contact for councillors. The SEOs are available
to provide updates on projects and works as required.

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