There was confusion and dismay at a meeting of the Killaloe Electoral Area councillors after a list of unfinished housing estates exempt from the Government household charge in the East Clare area were given to the members.
The estates exempt from this charge were outlined in a formal reply to a motion submitted by Councillor Cathal Crowe and include estates at Bodyke Road, Tuamgraney; Portumna Road, Whitegate; Scariff Road, Mountshannon; Bruach lán, Westbury; Churchfields, Newtown Road, Clonlara; Shantruad Woods, Clonlara Road, Killaloe and Carrig Midhe, Knockballynameath, Corbally.
There were at least three housing estates that were not deemed to be exempt by the Department of Environment Community and Local Government and further estates which the councillors felt should have been included for consideration by the department.
The three in question are estates at Arda na Deirge, Knockyclovaun, Killaloe, East Clare Golf Village, Coolreaghbeg, Bodyke and Killaloe Road, Tuamgraney.
Councillor Crowe argued “while the list tells of the estates that are exempt it omits many others”.
“The real question for residents is that if an estate is not on the list then are they finished? And if they are finished then why can’t they be taken in charge. If we read between the lines, it appears they must be finished estates,” he said.
He highlighted that an estate in Westbury, An Grianán, had not been deemed an unfinished estate and claimed this estate is in disrepair and overlooks a construction site.
“There are estates in Westbury and Parkroe in East Clare that haven’t seen a developer in 20 years.
“What is to happen to those that are deemed unfinished by the council and haven’t made the department’s list,” he said.
Senior executive officer Michael McNamara said, “The council did not set the criteria of what housing estates are unfinished and the department did not supply the information of what criteria the department had, so it couldn’t clarify the position further.”
Councillor Michael Begley said the charge will “not help community relations” as some could be located “beside people who are not paying a charge”.
After the meeting, Councillor Cathal Crowe called on the council to explain why the Grianán estate is not included in the list of developments exempt from the household charge.
In a letter to the councillor, Nora Kaye assistant director of service in the planning section of Clare County Council said the local authority had “been given a prescribed list by the Department of Environment Community and Local Government. This prescribed list names the estates which are exempt from the household charge for the year 2012”.
She explained, “It is the council’s understanding that no change will be made to that list for the year 2012 and that a new list will be prescribed for 2013. Clare County Council was not consulted about the exemptions and had no role to play in determining the prescribed list”.
Speaking after the meeting Councillor Crowe said he would be taking the matter up at ministerial level to get further clarification.