Council provide an update re efforts to ensure that Kilcullen is allocated much needed bus shelters

My second question at July 17th MD meeting; ‘Can the council provide an update re efforts to ensure that Kilcullen is allocated much needed bus shelters, to protect constituents availing of public transport in the area?

Report issued by Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads, Transportation and Public Safety Department: ‘The National Transport Authority (NTA) provide bus shelters in conjunction with the local authority and a list of bus shelters has been prepared by NTA, to be developed in County Kildare in conjunction with Kildare County Council (list in link below). The provision of bus shelters at and opposite the petrol station on Main Street, Kilcullen, has been assessed, however, due to restrictions in footpath width and available space the shelters are not progressing at this time.

 

List of Bus Selter Locations – Item 8 on Agenda

Council provide an update on any previous requests to improve transport links between Caragh and Naas and Caragh and Naas/Sallins Railway Station

My first question at July 17th MD meeting; ‘Can the council provide an update on any previous requests to improve transport links between Caragh and Naas and Caragh and Naas/Sallins Railway Station to including any previous requests for; the introduction of cycle lanes; the introduction of a Local Link bus service?

Report issued by Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads, Transportation and Public Safety Department: ‘Previous requests for improvement of transport links include a request to Iarnród Éireann to consider the advancement of building a new rail station on a site between Naas and Caragh to facilitate existing and future population growth and reduce the need for local commuters to use motor transport on the M7/N7 to Dublin. The Roads, Transportation and Public Safety Department also received a previous request for the provision of a cycleway between Naas and Caragh. A report from LocalLink on any future plans or outline proposals is awaited and any information provided will be issued to the members.

Council provide an update on the progress of the €2million redevelopment of the Riverbank Arts Centre

My second motion at July 17th MD meeting; ‘That the council provide an update on the progress of the €2million redevelopment of the Riverbank Arts Centre, announced in 2017 as part of the Creative Ireland programme funding provided under Department of Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-2018.

Report issued by Ms S Kavanagh, Director of Service, Economic, Community and Cultural Development Department; ‘The Riverbank Venue Manager has advised that they are ready to tender for a design team for the project. The Venue Manager has also suggested that it would be timely to invite the Municipal District members to the Riverbank in September for a full update on the programme and the future plans for expansion. She will be in contact directly with the members to issue this invitation.

Council provide an all-weather safe surface for the playground in Kilcullen

My first motion at July 17th MD meeting, ‘That the council provide an all-weather safe surface for the playground in Kilcullen similar to that provided in Maynooth and explain in its report the criteria for selecting different playground surfaces.

Report issued by: Ms P O’Rourke, Executive Parks Superintendent, Community and Cultural Development Department: The playground in Kilcullen was created using play mulch as the safety surface. Due to the decomposing of the bark mulch evidenced, the surface was changed to sand. The installation of a wet-pour/rubber surface and its maintenance in the Kilcullen Playground would be cost prohibitive. Playground surfaces are based on the finances available, taking into consideration such items as the critical fall heights of the equipment, the required maintenance and lifetime costs, natural drainage of the site, environmental impact of the material and the accessibility of the play equipment.

KWETB – Ongoing Governance Concerns

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Last weeks Public Accounts Committee report references the governance lapses that occurred in the KWETB before the former Chief Executive retired and the new Chief Executive took up her position. It refers to the Garda investigation underway into procurement lapses that happened before the new CE took up her position and acknowledges that new governance procedures are in place.

The narrative that governance is no longer a concern in the KWETB since the new administration took over, is not accurate. Here are just some of the examples of poor governance that has continued to manifest itself within the organisation

Governance issues re the KWETB complaints process

1) I have had no follow up in relation to approximately 50 complaints which suggest a pattern of poor governance not just in relation to the procurement system being investigated by the Garda Economic Investigations Unit but extends to the KWETB appointments system and to the KWETBs complaints process itself, amongst others. Some complainants report mental distress and suffering both at work and in their family life as a result.

Local Authority Finances 29 th November 2018 Commencement Matter

Senator Victor Boyhan

I thank the Minister of State for coming into the House to take this matter. In essence, I am seeking an update on the Government's commitment in A Programme for a Partnership Government which states:

We will also examine the possibility of extending the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee to include expenditure by local authorities. We will ensure that local government funding, structures and responsibilities strengthen local democracy.
I do not doubt that commitment. Sitting county councillors tell me that they are experiencing some difficulty even in having time on their agendas to consider the local government auditor's report. We know that local authorities are audited through the internal structures of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government that deal with the local government audit service. Most local authorities have only received in the past two or three weeks the local government auditor's report for 2017. I know that in one case in Dún Laoghaire councillors only had approximately ten minutes to consider a very detailed report, in which a number of very strong issues of concern were raised by the auditor.

We know that the Committee of Public Accounts has expressed an interest in having representatives of local
authorities come before it and that the Government is committed to doing something. It is just a question of when or having a timeframe for it. There is a real need for accountability. Local government is spending an exceptionally large amount. I picked up the Supplementary Estimates for public services, in which document we can see the substantial amount committed to by the Government. I do not doubt its commitment to funding local authorities,
but we must have accountability.
Yesterday when I contacted the National Oversight and Audit Commission, it told me that
although it could inquire into matters, ultimately, there was no provision for sanctions. The
local government audit service also confirmed to me that, ultimately, it had no powers to
impose sanctions either. The bottom line is that county managers, or chief executives as we
know them today, must be held to account. It is time we had them before the Committee of
Public Accounts or a similar body to account for how they spend public money. I am
interested in hearing the Minister of State's response.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick
Donovan)

The Senator is correct. The programme for Government outlines this commitment under the
heading of local government reform. The Senator will be glad to know that in the past couple
of months I have been doing some work on the matter with my officials in the Department of
Public Expenditure and Reform. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and I are former members
of the Committee of Public Accounts, as is the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local
Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. I have committed publicly to extending the role of the
Comptroller and Auditor General to cover the local authority sector. There is no reason the
Comptroller and Auditor General cannot cover local authority services. As somebody who
served on the committee, I found it very frustrating that we were unable to have chief
executives, or county managers as they were known, before it.
The Minister and I have discussed this issue on a number of occasions. Within the
Department we have worked up a proposal jointly with the Department of Housing, Planning
and Local Government. I hope it will be brought before the Government shortly in order that
we can examine the possibility of putting in place an implementation group between the
Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Housing, Planning and Local
Government, with a view to extending the remit. There is no reason Members of the Houses
should not have access to information on the funding voted by the Houses for the local
authorities. They have access to that level of information, scrutiny, oversight and audit in
every other single element of voted expenditure. I cannot explain and will not attempt to
duck, dive or conceal the fact that it has not happened up to now, as it should have. There is
no reason for the chief executives of local authorities not to be here. They should be held to
account. It is what happens in the case of the chief executives of other agencies and
Accounting Officers of Departments who are held to account by the Committee of Public
Accounts, of which I was a member, as were the other two Ministers. The Senator is
absolutely right that there is no reason this should not happen.
I can update the Senator as we move along, but he will be glad to know that this matter has
been discussed by me on a number of occasions with the other two Ministers, both of whom
agree with me. My officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have liaised
with officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and I hope, as
Minister of State with responsibility for this matter, to be in a position to bring a proposal to
the Government shortly. It is very frustrating for members of the Committee of Public
Accounts and other Members of the Oireachtas that there is no scrutiny to this level of such a
large Vote from which funding is allocated by the Houses to the local authority sector.

An Cathaoirleach

It sounds as if the Senator is pushing an open door.

Senator Victor Boyhan

I thank the Minister of State who clearly is very committed to dealing this issue. It is one of
the strongest and most robust responses I have heard from any Minister in my short period in
the House. I say, "Well done" to the Minister of State. I will have no doubts in leaving here
today that the Minister of State and the Government are strongly committed to this initiative.
I thank him most sincerely.

An Cathaoirleach

It is nice to see the Minister of State speaking off the cuff and without referring to notes.
Clearly, he is on top of his brief.

Kildare County Council 2019 Road Works Programme

The 2019 road works programme is detailed in link to report below. This sets out the budgets, Municipal District funding and the main projects involving planning, design and construction of roadworks as proposed by Kildare County Council, Roads and Transportation Directorate in the current year.

In the main, these projects will be carried out through the Municipal District Offices in 2019 or through the Roads Central Services (Roads Projects, Traffic Section, Roads Planning, PublicLighting).

2019 Road Works Programme – KCC

Council using its almost complete land and asset register identify possible locations for a free, national standard BMX park

That the council, using its almost complete land and asset register, identify possible locations for a free, national standard, BMX park that is being offered to this municipal district and outline upfront what would be required from a developer in order to allow it to be provided to the council for the benefit of young people of this municipal district.

Here is the report issued by Mr S Wallace, Senior Executive Parks Superintendent, Economic Community and Cultural Development Park: A report will be prepared to ascertain if there are suitable sites to locate a BMX track using the land and asset register. The requirements from a developer are a BMX track design prepared by an experienced qualified track designer experienced in the technical requirements for BMX tracks. Car parking will also have to be a consideration and perimeter fencing as part of the design. Professional indemnity insurance will be required as part of the design. Planning permission will be required for the track and any material being imported to construct the track will have to meet waste licensing and disposal regulations. Public liability insurance will also be required to insure the track if it being run by a club.

Council ask organisation it funds that they provide an annual report of their use and governance of public monies

My second adjourned motion at today’s (15th May) ; ‘That where it has not executed its oversight function over organisations it funds in the municipal district (and county) the council now ask that they provide an annual report of their use and governance of public monies and they be uploaded onto the council’s website for public access.

Here is the report issued by Mr T McDonnell, Director of Services, Housing and Corporate Services: It is extremely difficult to respond to a hypothetical question such as this. Different funding streams and different levels of funding require different funding arrangements, oversight and governance. The council cannot commit to an action without understanding fully what the context is.

Council ask Bord na Mona to explore a range of options for their Masterplan for their Newbridge site that would support sustainable economic development in the area

My first motion at todays (15th May) Municipal District meeting, ‘That the council ask Bord na Mona to explore a range of options for their Masterplan for their Newbridge site that would support sustainable economic development in the area including a hub that had the potential to support any or all of the following

  1. Support local start-ups and growing enterprises with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship and developing economic activity in the area
  2. Foster and support community ownership of renewable energy projects, citizen education and promotion of recycling
  3. Provide ‘Hot-desk’ facilities which would allow people to avail of fibre broadband for remote work purposes and for business uses

Here is the report issued by: Ms M Hunt, Senior Executive Officer, Economic Community & Cultural Development; ‘The lands in question are owned by Bord na Mona and, as matters stand, any future development of same would be subject to the policies and objectives of the Local Area Plan. Though obviously well-meaning, it is not however open to the elected members to suggest new objectives, save as part of the review of the LAP and following public consultation.

That stated Kildare County Council through the LEO has set out ambitious plans within the Mideast Action plan for Jobs and its own Economic Development Strategy to develop a network of such innovative co-working spaces in County Kildare locations in Athy, Kildare Town, Naas, North County Kildare and in Newbridge have already been identified. Bord na Mona will be an important Stakeholder in a Green focus hub As outlined in the plans all spaces:

  • Support local start-ups and growing enterprises with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship and developing economic activity in the area
  • Provide ‘Hot-desk’ facilities which would allow people to avail of fibre broadband for remote work purposes and for business uses’