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Council promises no change to courtyard ownership

COUNCIL officials have allayed concerns that talks between the Temple Gate Hotel and Ennis Town Council regarding Place St Paul de Fenouillet could result in a future change of ownership of the town centre courtyard.
Ennis Town Council has been in preliminary discussions with the Temple Gate Hotel regarding the possibility of the hotel taking over the maintenance of the courtyard located outside the hotel, tourist office and county museum. The area is currently maintained by the council, including planted areas.
According to town clerk Eddie Power, the hotel believes the appearance of the courtyard area has the potential to enhance the hotel and have a positive impact on business and customers.
“The area is close to the town centre and is extensively used by visitors to the town and the hotel and by persons walking between the car park and the town centre. It is an attractive location and because the area is pedestrianised, it has a unique character, which is complemented by the attractive sculpture piece in its centre. The hotel, museum and tourist office, by their nature, attract tourists and visitors to the area,” he commented.
He added that from a local authority perspective, such an arrangement would free up staff resources for other areas.
However, at a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, a number of councillors expressed their concerns about the proposal.
Councillor Mary Coote Ryan stated, “I would love to see the area looking its best, as long as the hotel owners don’t think it belongs to them. It is definitely town council property.”
Councillor Tommy Brennan said he was “totally against” the move.
“It’s a part of the town of Ennis, I see no reason why the maintenance should be changed over. It is already maintained to a very high standard by the staff of the council,” he said, adding that the hotel may look at “getting a bit of title to it”.
Mr Power reassured the councillors that there is “no suggestion of any transferral of ownership” and that transferring the maintenance “makes sense”. Councillor Paul O’Shea asked if the proposal would result in a loss of council jobs, with Mr Power answering there is “no question of job losses, there will be no negative impact on council staff”.
Councillor O’Shea also raised concerns about the possibility of “unsightly” advertising being erected in the square. Town manager Ger Dollard told the meeting that detailed terms of the proposed agreement have not been determined but that if the plan goes ahead, the council could put in place certain conditions, including that no advertising be erected.
Councillor Brian Meaney raised the matter of the existing right-of-way in the square, saying, “This proposal has to be handled properly at this time or it could become problematic in the future.”
Mr Power assured the ­meeting that the public right-of-way would be maintained.
Councillor Frankie Neylon suggested the Madden family, owners of the hotel, be invited to a meeting of councillors to discuss their plans, while Councillor Johnny Flynn suggested a 12-month trial basis could be put in place.
The meeting was told that prior to entering any agreement with the hotel, a number of upgrading works would be carried out by Ennis Town Council.
It is proposed to remove a number of trees and shrubbery that have been deemed inappropriate for this town centre area and replace them with more suitable trees. Other minor upgrading works at the site have also been planned by the council.
It was agreed by the councillors to continue discussions between the hoteliers and the local authority.

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