Outline recommendations of the Local Government Audit Service and of our internal audit in relation to Voluntary Housing Associations

My motion at May’s full council meeting ‘That this council outline the recommendations of the Local Government Audit Service and of our internal audit in relation to Voluntary Housing Associations and the plan for (or progress) implementing said recommendations.
Report Issued by Tadhg McDonnell, Director of Services, Housing and Corporate Services : The Local Government Audit Service Value for Money Report No 29 relating to the oversight role of the local authorities in the provision of social housing by approved housing bodies is available at:

The report contains 13 recommendations under the following 8 headings:
Registration of Mortgage                                   Nominations and Statement of Occupancy
Inspections                                                           Record of Meetings
Corporate Governance                                       Financial Matters
Leasing Arrangements                                       Capital Projects
A Regulation Office was established as the Regulator for not for profit social housing providers in 2014 on an interim basis, pending enabling legislation. The Regulation Office is part of the Housing Agency, a State Body that supports the delivery and supply of housing and housing services, funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. The Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill is currently being prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.
The Internal Audit Report on Voluntary Housing recommended a number of actions to be implemented in the overall management of the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme and the Capital Assistance Scheme.
In acknowledgement of the expanding role of Approved Housing Bodies [AHBs] and, in particular, having regard to targets set under the Social Housing Strategy 2020 for AHBs, a Leasing Team has been established from existing staff resources within the housing department. This team is working on the implementation of the recommendations of both audits, together with implementing the current leasing programmes. It is recognised that there is a body of retrospective work to be completed relating to both the national and internal audit and, in order to complete this work, we are awaiting the return from maternity leave of the Staff Officer assigned to this section.

Home Care – The Way Forward

The new Public Consultation process on home care has now commenced. The consultation, launched by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD, and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, TD, is aimed,  in particular, at people who use Home Care services, their families and the general public.  However, everyone with an interest, including: health and social care providers; health and social care workers; advocacy groups; those providing complementary services (such as meals-on-wheels and social activities); and representative organisations are welcome to participate.  ..
See copy of the of the Health (Amendment) (Professional Home Care) Bill 2016 (Bill) along with an Explanatory Memorandum (memo) published by Senator Colm Burke in October 2016. 

 The consultation paper can be found online at www.health.gov.ie/consultations and the closing date for submissions is 31 August 2017. 

Town/County Twinning

My motion at June’s Full Council meeting, ‘Unless and until the council addresses its’ failure to ask all Town or County Twinning Associations to provide evidence of good governance, accountability, transparency and fairness in the expenditure of council funds which, being tax-payers money of up to €100,000 +/yearly, the Twinning Associations are likely to, and should be happy to provide, that the funds are reallocated to food banks and food share programmes around the county, including ( but not limited to) Newbridge Food Share Programme, The Dining Room Project and St. Vincent De Paul, currently providing food parcels for more than one hundred and forty families in Newbridge alone a week, and up to one thousand families around the county. And that as part of the review of council protocol in relation to town twinning that the council consider specific criteria that must first be met by all proposed new Twinning Associations before requests for increased expenditure of public monies on the Twinning of towns or county are considered.’
Here is the report Issued by: Sonya Kavanagh, Director of Service, Economic, Community and Cultural Development; ‘ The members agreed to allocate funding to Twinning in Budget 2017. Twinning Committees are required to provide costed work programme for the year. On receipt of this paperwork their grant is processed and receipts are then required to be submitted by a specified date later in the year. Having had a number of discussions at Municipal District level regarding Twinning it has been agreed that a Twinning Protocol and Procedure will be drafted and presented to the Protocol Committee for consideration at their October meeting.

Need for a comprehensive small town centre improvement upgrade at Athgarvan

My second motion at today’s (21st June) MD meeting was a joint motion by myself,Councillor Pender, Councillor Power & Councillor Lynch. ‘That the Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District recognise the immediate need for a comprehensive small town centre improvement upgrade at Athgarvan. This should comprise of an upgrade to the crossroads to include a Plaza Type design and improvements to bus stops, walkways and cycle networks as agreed in the policy objectives of the County Development Plan 2017-2023 to bring the area up to its’ designated small town centre standard.


Report: This issue will be considered by the Municipal District Engineer in consultation with the Technical Assessment and Advisory Group (TAAG).

#Notes of discussion may be added later.

Review of the Town Hall

My first motion at today’s (21st June) MD meeting ‘ That the review of the Town Hall includes a matrix pricing structure allowing for flexible pricing of the Town Hall. This should include a reduced fee for people or organisations renting the Town Hall for a purpose with a clear community dividend. A more appropriate fee of €10/hr should be introduced immediately to allow the Cottage Market to gain traction and to grow. The Cottage Market is a fantastic exemplar of the type of tenant we need to support and encourage – a new initiative for Newbridge and its’ environs with clear benefits to the community in terms of education around the environment and sustainability, support of local growers and crafters, provision of local, fresh and/or homemade produce, the potential to encourage the growth of community gardens and to attract visitors to the town.
Report Issued by Mr G Halton, Senior Executive Officer, Community and Culture: Prior to the opening of the Town Hall for business, the Board of Management undertook a comprehensive review and produced its report and recommendations, which was circulated to the municipal district members. This dealt with among other things:
– the background and early examples of usage
-the extensive consultation process
-the open sessions for the public
-suggestions on possible uses
-the main factors influencing future usage
-the operation, management and promotion
-recommended policy on usage
-recommended one year trial period
-recommendation on charging rates of €40 per hour for community groups and non commercial activities. In relation to open door paying events of a commercial nature, a charge fee should be on a recovery cost plus basis.
As there is an ongoing charge for providing the booking service, waste disposal, inspections and charge for every hour when the building is open for an event, it is important that there is a reasonable charge rate to meet these costs.
The Board of Management were very conscious to achieve a reasonable balance between attracting demand and covering costs, while being in line generally with the charges levied elsewhere within the venues in the town, and should be a complementary facility. In addition, the review that is due to take place will take into account the pricing structure.
#Notes of discussion in council may be added later.

Update regarding the Traffic Management Plans and the Town Design Statements for Newbridge and Kildare Towns

My second question at today’s (21st June) MD meeting ‘ Can the council provide an update regarding the Traffic Management Plans and the Town Design Statements for Newbridge and Kildare Towns? This should include: an explanation as to why the €70,000 Local Property Tax (LPT) fund allocated by municipal district councillors for Town Design Statements to be developed by The Royal Institute of Archietcts (RIAI) has not been utilised, or the project even started; a copy of the most recent traffic management proposals presented to the National Transport Association (NTA) for Newbridge and Kildare which have not at any point in the last two years of failed applications to the NTA been made available to, or contributed to by elected representatives.

Report issued by : Mr B. Martin, Administrative Officer, Roads Transportation and Public Safety.: With regard to the Traffic Management Plan, the Roads Department continues to engage with the National Transport Authority (NTA) on the draft tender specification. The District Manager to report on the Town Design Statements.

#Notes of discussion in council may be added later.

Council outline its plans for traffic calming measures at Scoil Mhuire, The Oaks and the Elms

My first question at today’s (21st June) MD meeting, ‘In light of plans for a new extension at Scoil Mhuire Secondary School in Newbridge, can the Council outline its plans to create a safe environment for both children and adults, students of Scoil Mhuire and residents of the Oaks and the Elms through appropriate and urgently needed traffic calming measures? These should include; the repainting of the yellow lines to prevent parking on and around corners across the road from the back entrance to Scoil Mhuire; the extension of the pathway from the Elms towards the back entrance of Scoil Mhuire to beyond the priest’s residence to meet with the path which continues to the entrance to the Oaks; the repainting of the existing zebra crossing at the back entrance and the addition of zebra crossing lights to alert traffic to children crossing. This is an absolute necessity at peak times where congestion is bumper to bumper and ground markings are not visible; the creation of a further zebra crossing one third of the way between the back entrance and the entrance to The Oaks to allow children to cross the road safely from the Scoil Mhuire side of the road, and not between cars as they currently do; the council’s response to the previous petition submitted two years ago by residents of The Oaks for ramps and the more recent submission by residents of the Oaks in December 2016 for ramps to limit speeding on the long straight route between The Elms and the entrance to The Oaks (photos available ).
Report issued by : Mr B.Martin, Administrative Officer, Roads Transportation and Public Safety.: The repainting of the yellow lines have been placed on the Line Marking Works Programme for 2017 which will be arranged in Q3 2017. The extension to the footway is not on the Roadworks Programme for 2017 and no funding has been identified for these works. These works can be assessed for funding under Local Property Tax (LPT) / Pay Parking for 2018. The municipal district office will include the remarking of the zebra crossing in the Line Marking Works Programme for 2017 which will be arranged in Quarter 3 2017. The request for additional zebra crossing in The Oaks and request for ramps in The Oaks Estate will be referred to the Technical Assessment and Advisory Group (TAAG).