MONEY collected from the property tax must be ringfenced to carry out work in unfinished estates in Ennis, one local councillor has insisted, as Clare County Council rejected claims that residents in these estates have been neglected.
A meeting of Ennis West Electoral Area saw Councillor Tom McNamara request an update on Beechpark Estate, Woodstock Drive, Woodstock View and Parklands. The residents have made a request to the county council under Section 180 of the Planning and Development Acts to have their estates taken in charge.
Councillor McNamara asked what progress was being made and the estimated cost of bringing the estates to an acceptable standard to take them in charge. He also asked what plans the county council has to apply to central government for additional funding to meet these costs.
“These people deserve more than they have at the moment,” he said. “Some are living in places with pumping stations not working and sewage coming up and they are being forced to pay a property tax. People are being forced to pay money and they have not got the services they were promised. Our Oireactas members need to make sure that the legislation is changed and that the money is ringfenced, we need to stand up and be counted.”
The meeting was told that Clare County Council is currently dealing with over 180 estates in the county that are either unfinished, inadequately completed or not taken in charge. Clare County Council has received 49 Section 180 requests from residents.
Senior executive engineer for the Ennis area, Eamon O’Dea added, “The council has been assigning significant resources to try to deal with a range of legacy issues that exist on these estates as a result of the economic downturn that have been further complicated by liquidations, receivership and other matters. Both estates mentioned are receiving attention with a view to addressing the outstanding issues to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Technical reports are being prepared on both estates mentioned in the motion and discussions have also taken place with the developers involved. A submission for funding for taking in charge has been made to the department.”
Director of services Ger Dollard told the meeting that the property tax does not come directly to the council. “People are under the impression that there is a windfall coming, but it goes to central government,” he stated. Mr Dollard said the council expect to receive 80% of the money collected, adding, “but you can be sure it will be on the basis of other grants being reduced.”
He added that the county council have “quite a number of issues” with inadequately completed estates, but “we are making progress”. He stated that progress is being made at Woodstock Drive and the council hope it will be taken in charge shortly.
In relation to Beechpark he outlined the council has met with residents and technical assessments have been carried out. “There are serious issues that have to be addressed. I don’t think there is a quick solution but we will work with all parties involved to come up with a solution,” he stated.
Councillor Tony Mulcahy commented that there have been issues with Beechpark for decades. Councillor James Breen stated that he raised the estate in 1993, claiming the council had not served an enforcement notice on the developer. “The council has neglected our duty since 1993,” he said. He urged, “We have to move in and ignore the owner and finish the estate.”
Mr Dollard rejected the claim, saying an enforcement notice had been served. He stated the owner of the estate is responsible until it is taken in charge.
“The owner cannot just walk away,” he stated. He outlined that the council holds a bond for Beechpark, but that it would not be adequate to bring the estate to the required standard. Mr Dollard concluded, “where is the money going to come from, the council don’t have it and government funding is reduced. We will work with the owner and bond holder to come up with a solution.” Councillor Breen requested that the enforcement notice be produced at the next meeting