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Councillors reject €10 annual lease for community centre

The Cloughleigh Community Resource Building under construction in Ennis.   Photograph by John KellyENNIS town councillors have asked the town council not to lease the Community and Resource Building at Cloughleigh to Clare Youth Service for a lease of €10 a year for the next 10 years.
At this week’s monthly meeting of Ennis Town Council, town manager Ger Dollard told councillors they were looking for the go-ahead to dispose of the building at Cloughleigh Road and to lease the property, the Community and Resource Building, which is currently under construction, to Clare Youth Service for the next 10 years for just €10 a year.
A number of councillors said they saw issues with giving the go-ahead to this agreement, particularly as they had not seen the terms of the lease, nor had been given adequate assurances about restrictions of use that would be enforced at the centre, which is due to become a youth centre and café.
Councillor Michael Guilfoyle said he had concerns with allowing the lease to be finalised, as he had not seen it.
“I’ve no idea what kind of lease agreement it is, or that this arrangement will be a success, or what will happen to the building in 10 years’ time if it hasn’t been a success. I honestly think that the rent could be €1,000 a year but I’d certainly have difficulties with it only being €10,” he commented.
Mayor Tommy Brennan suggested a clause should be included in the lease agreement stating that if there is any kind of issue at the centre that it would come back before town council.
Mr Dollard said the building would be used by Clare Youth Service as a youth centre and youth café.
“Clare Youth Service are a very reputable organisation and events are organised very responsibly. This is not a commercial venture. It’s the council trying to help the social environment of our town,” he commented.
Councillor Johnny Flynn added that he would prefer if a form of covenant could be put in place regarding the terms of use of the building.
“This could include terms and conditions relating to procedure if problems arise regarding the usage of the centre, to protect the quality of life of people in that area. Residents there previously were deceived about what would happen with the building,” he claimed.
Councillor Peter Considine said he had a problem with the use of the word “deceived”. “I’d like that word removed because certainly I never deceived any residents, nor as far as I know no councillor deceived anyone, about the plan for the Cloughleigh centre. I have every trust in how the Clare Youth Service operates activities. They are not a business but an organisation involved in training and presenting opportunities and activities for the youth.”
In response to the use of the word “deceived”, Councillor Flynn explained he had meant that residents felt a “certain level of frustration and anger” when decisions were made about the centre.
“They felt they were deceived about what the plans were for the centre,” he added.
Councillor Frankie Neylon also said he wanted to see commitments to residents’ concerns acknowledged in the lease of the building. “If problems arise there, I wouldn’t like to see it all going wrong and the building becoming unusable. If anything ever happens there, I would like to see the council being able to take the building back on,” he commented.
Councillor O’Shea suggested that the lease should be set at €500 annually. “That money could be used by the council to give an award to a young person every year,” he said. Councillor Flynn supported this suggestion. Mr Dollard said such an award scheme would have to be discussed with Clare Youth Service but councillors said it would be an Ennis Town Council award and not one for Clare Youth Service to decide on.
Mr Dollard asked if he could take it that councillors are happy to lease the building to Clare Youth Service. Mayor Brennan agreed that they were but that councillors wanted to see the lease agreement before anything would be finalised.
The town manager agreed that councillors could see the lease agreement before any arrangements are finalised with Clare Youth Service and that the suggestion of a €500 lease fee would also be considered in conjunction with the lease agreement.

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