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Scaffolding raises ‘Fawlty’ argument

 A general view of some of the scaffolding erected at the Clare County Council Headquarters on New Road in Ennis.   Photograph by John KellyClare county manager Tom Coughlan has refuted suggestions the council’s headquarters is akin to “Fawlty Towers” because of the amount of scaffolding being used during roof repairs, costing an estimated €131,000.
In fact, Mr Coughlan has insisted the €25 million Áras Contae an Chláir is a very impressive building, which has won a number of awards, and could in no way be compared with the infamous television sitcom.
Councillor PJ Kelly made the claim after questioning if the council could be left footing the bill for the repairs after the contractor, Michael McNamara and Co, went into receivership in November 2010.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy criticised the use of the “Fawlty Towers” description of the council headquarters, while Councillor Gabriel Keating urged Councillor Kelly to withdraw this statement.
However, Councillor Kelly stuck to his guns insisting there is a public perception that Arás Contae and Chlair is akin to the famous sitcom hostelry because of all the scaffolding and that people are wondering is the place falling down. The Lissycasey councillor stressed he shouldn’t be criticised for relaying statements made to him about a public building.
Mr Coughlan pointed out there is a legal agreement in place with the contractor and that the council intend to pursue what is owed to cover the cost of repair work.
He told councillors the €131,000 bill had to be viewed in the context of a building that cost €25 million to construct and noted issues often arose with a much smaller four-bedroom house when a builder had departed.
“People are very impressed with this building and none of them ever them told me it looks like Fawlty Towers or the place if falling down. This is a modern award winning building which illustrates the council is open for business,” he said.
He said it is pity this kind of terminology was used because it could adversely affect the council’s image and how it presents itself for investors.
“The old building was like Fawlty Towers and staff were delighted to move into the new building. I would invite anyone to come in and visit the new building where they will see it is not like Fawlty Towers,” he said.
Senior executive officer Michael McNamara admitted no commitment had been received from the receiver about the payment of the €131,000.
Councillor Kelly had asked that a report be made available with regard to repairs to Áras an Chláir, dealing with the cost of repairs to date, the estimated cost of future repairs and who pays the costs.
“Work is nearing completion on rectification of the defective parapet capping on the roof at corporate head quarters and the contractor will then be attending to rectifying the cause of the staining to the external wall near the chamber,” he said.
“The Contractor Michael McNamara & Co Building Contractors provided a collateral agreement to meet the cost of remedial works arising at the building for a period of 12 years from the date of completion of the building – thus this agreement remains in place until 2020. Michael McNamara & Co Ltd. are in receivership and the council have been in communication with the receiver in relation to recovery of the costs outlined above,” he added.
He confirmed payment to date in respect of works total €51,640 while the estimated further cost of completing the works is €80,000. He added that he is not aware of any further repairs being required.


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