CALLS were made to have the recruitment embargo on the employment of local authority workers lifted at a meeting of Clare County Council.
Councillor Christy Curtin raised a motion calling for an update on staffing and budgetary matters arising from the newly established Municipal District Offices and Local Enterprise Office and Service Centre.
Meanwhile, Councillor PJ Ryan asked the council to request the relevant minister to lift the embargo on the employment of local authority workers.
Councillor Curtin asked for a time-frame for alignment of road engineering areas with municipal district areas and the implications for delivery of the road and allied infrastructural services.
According to Eddie Power senior executive officer at the Human Resources Department of the council, the realignment of the five roads engineering areas to four roads engineering areas to coincide with the new Municipal Districts of Shannon, Ennis, West Clare and Killaloe has been completed.
“An adjustment at operational level to the functional areas of SGSS’s and outdoor staff will come into effect in October 2014. The October timeframe is to facilitate the completion, without any interruption, of the 2014 Roads Work Programme,” he said.
Councillor Curtin also asked what the council’s proposals were for council plant depots within the new configuration.
He was informed that there are no proposals in respect of an enhanced role for council plant depots at present.
“Existing depots will continue to operate as before and there is no planned change to the role of depots arising from the introduction of the Municipal District structures,” he said.
His motion also addressed the number of outdoor staff employed in the four municipal districts. Mr Power outlined that there are 36 in the Ennis Municipal District, 61 in the West Clare Municipal District, 14 in the Shannon Municipal District and 36 in the Killaloe Municipal District.
Councillor Curtin also sought the staffing numbers and budgetary support from Enterprise Ireland for the Local Enterprise Office (LEO).
He was critical that just one member of staff transferred to the newly created Local Enterprise Office and that three more positions needed to be filled. He said the council needed to get a budget for staff here. He commented that in Mayo there were seven staff members, while in another county in Connacht there were 13. He said a budget was needed to ensure Clare gets the staffing required.
Eddie Power senior executive officer at the Human Resources Department said, “The council is concerned that the full delivery of the LEO is being restricted by the lack of an adequate staff structure and skills in the area of enterprise and business development”.
He outlined that the Local Enterprise Office is operated by Clare County Council under a Service Level Agreement with Enterprise Ireland and that the local authority has sought departmental approval to filling three positions at the LEO. These are: Head of the Local Enterprise Office; Senior Enterprise Development Officer; Business Advisor.
“The filling of these above positions would provide the staff complement approved for the Local Enterprise Office. Approval from the Department is awaited,” Mr Power said.
“The staffing of the LEO comprises staff of the former County Enterprise Board and staff of Clare County Council. In the case of County Clare, only one staff member transferred from the Clare County Enterprise Board to the LEO. The requirement to provide the additional staff resources falls on the local authority and the cost of providing these resources is also required to be met by the local authority. The council has assigned a staff officer on a permanent basis to the LEO and an Administrative Officer on a part time basis to the LEO. This has allowed the LEO to be established and to operate effectively to date,” he concluded.
Councillor PJ Ryan said ,“someone has to lay a marker or this council will come to a standstill. There’ll be a lot of work that just will not get done”.
Councillor Gerry Flynn said, “we were told by Government that the closing of the enterprise boards and the setting up of the enterprise office would enhance the service and make it more cost effective and a lean operation, but from the response it seems to show that the type of lean is not what we wanted”.