Council provide a list of the top 10 earning contractors (accumulated) across each Directorate in the municipal district

My second question at today’s Municipal District meeting, ‘Can the council provide a list of the top 10 earning contractors (accumulated) across each Directorate in the municipal district together with an explanation of how the opening and tender evaluation panels are selected and a reassurance that the council has adhered to national procurement policy in the selection of these panels?

Here is the report issued by Mr T McDonnell, Director of Services, Housing and Corporate Services : ‘Kildare County Council does not differentiate by Municipal District the payments made to contractors. Under the Public Service Reform Plan and in compliance with departmental circular Fin07/2012, on a quarterly basis each payment over €20k is listed on the Council’s website at http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/Finance/AccountsPayable/PurchaseOrdersover20000/.

These details remain on the website for approximately 12 months.

An abbreviated version of the Kildare County Council procurement procedure (last updated in 2018) is available on the Council website at http://www.kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/Procurement/ and was prepared in accordance with Government guidelines. This guidance includes details of opening, examination and evaluation of tenders, including the criteria used in determining the selection of the panel.

 

Council detail the action it took to reassure itself as to the governance of the Arts Centre after a discrepancy of €63,000 was discovered

My first question at today’s Municipal District meeting, ‘Can the council detail the action it took to reassure itself as to the governance of the Arts Centre after; a discrepancy of €63,000 was discovered between a loan recorded in the Arts Centre accounts as a loan from the council which did not appear in the council’s accounts; and concerns regarding conflicts of interest were raised in the awarding of contracts by the Arts Centre?

Here is the report issued by: Ms S Kavanagh, Director of Services, Economic Community & Cultural Development : As the members will be aware Riverbank Arts Centre CLG is overseen by a Board of Management. Funding provided to Riverbank is provided on the basis of a funding agreement. Kildare County Council is satisfied, as a funding partner that this funding helps to provide an excellent service to the people of Kildare. Furthermore, I wish to confirm that an audited set of accounts is provided to Kildare County Council on an annual basis and any and all payments are subject to Kildare County Council being in receipt of a valid Tax Clearance Certificate.

In relation to the 2 specific questions that have been raised by Councillor McLoughlin Healy the following responses from the Board have issued previously;

In January 2019 the Board of Riverbank Arts Centre CLG responded as follows; Report from the Board of Riverbank Arts Centre CLG:

In relation to the €64,000, as noted by our accountants, an error was inadvertently made in the accounts. To correct this, the money will be written off against reserves and will not appear in Riverbank Arts Centre’s 2018 accounts. In March 2018 the Board of Riverbank Arts Centre CLG responded as follows; In relation to the particular concerns highlighted by a constituent; the Board has advised me that they have yet to appoint an Architect and therefore no one has, as yet, been contracted to do this work. In relation to recruitment it is the policy and practice of Riverbank Arts Centre to advertise vacancies to ensure the maximum number of suitable candidates apply for positions. If the concerns relate to a particular competition then perhaps the details could be provided so that the Board can provide a more specific response. The Board have also stated that they would welcome any constituent to come to Riverbank to discuss any concerns they may have.

In conclusion, can I summarise the above by saying that the Board of Riverbank Arts Centre CLG has responded to the questions asked. The Board is the body who govern this company. Kildare County Council provides funding to this company in accordance with a Funding Agreement. I am satisfied that the terms of the Funding Agreement have been adhered to.

Council provide an Annual Report of their use and governance of public monies

My second motion at today’s Municipal District meeting, ‘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 provide an update and identify which estates and when are to benefit from traffic calming solutions around the district.

My first motion at today’s Municipal District meeting, ‘That the council provide an update and identify which estates and when are to benefit from traffic calming solutions around the district.

Here is the report issued by Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads, Transportation and Public Safety Section. There is no available list, each estate is taken on its merit, assessed, and if required then a suitable design may carried out strictly subject to funding and staffing resources. The issue of traffic calming in housing estates is being examined by the Department of Transport’s Support Unit, based at Kildare National Roads Office.
Research is currently underway with a view to developing national guidelines on traffic calming in housing estates and best practice. A timeline for the publication of the work of the Support Unit is not available at this time.

Council provide seating for parents / replace the bins that were removed at Skatepark

My second motion at March (20th) Municipal District meeting; ‘Given the success of the new Skatepark in Newbridge that the council provide; seating for parents who have no option at the moment but to stand for long periods while supervising young children; replace the bins that were removed when redesigning the park; the CCTV envisaged for the park.

Here is the report issued by: Mr S Wallace, Senior Executive Parks Superintendent, Economic Community and Cultural Development Park: ‘Arrangements will be made to install seating for parents. One bin was removed close to the Moorefield Park as there were two bins at this location. This was relocated to beside the skatepark. The installation of CCTV will be progressed over the summer.

Council outline progress of its investigation of how the Water Tower could be demolished and removed

My second question at March (20th) Municipal District meeting; ‘Can the council outline any progress in terms of its investigation of how the Water Tower could be demolished and removed in Newbridge?

Here is the report issued by: Mr J Boland, District Manager: The council’s consulting engineers, Donnachadh O’Brien and associates, have been engaged to carry out a structural assessment of the Water Tower. An update should be available for the April meeting of the municipal district.

Council review and explain the early recommendation of the Curragh Forum

My first motion at March (20th) Municipal District meeting; ‘ That the council review and explain the early recommendation of the Curragh Forum that bye-laws be used to address some of the ongoing issues on the Curragh Plains.

Here is the Report Issued by: Mr J Boland, District Manager: The District Manager is scheduled to meet with the Department of Defence on Friday 15 March to discuss all issues raised by the elected members and, in particular , the Curragh plains initiative. The members will be briefed at the next municipal district meeting.’

Council outline the timeline and funding sources for each stage of the National Transport Authority traffic management plan

My first question at March  (20th) Municipal District meeting; ‘Can the council outline the timeline and funding sources for each stage of the National Transport Authority traffic management plan and for the development of a new cultural quarter in Newbridge; specifically identifying the source of the €6.3 million for the cultural quarter and the extent of the development that this funding will cover, in light of the estimated €8 million cost of redevelopment of the library alone?
Here is the report issued by: Ms M Hunt, Senior Executive Officer, Economic, Community and Cultural Development: As set out in the Cat B application to the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, which was also circulated to the municipal district members, the total estimated cost of the Newbridge Cultural Quarter is €20,000,000. This proposal includes the redevelopment of the Library, Market Square, and some public realm works from Georges Street to the Town Hall and redevelopment of the area currently being used as a car park between the Town Hall and St Conleths Park. However, a more accurate costing for this project can only be ascertained once required Part 8 approvals are in place and detailed designs have been drawn up. These detailed designs can then be submitted to the URDF for Cat A “shovel ready funding” for the actual construction of the various elements of the proposed Cultural Quarter.

The National Transport Authority draft Newbridge Transport Plan is a separate project to that of the Cultural Quarter project, however both projects are complimentary. The NTA draft Transport Plan is estimated to cost in the region of €10,000,000. The full cost of this project, and sources of funding can only be ascertained once analyses of key junctions have been completed and detailed designs are drawn up.

Councils response to concerns raised re: hosting of road staff by Deputy Frank O’Rourke

To: Mayor and Members of Kildare County Council and Oireachtas Members

Date: March 8th, 2019

Issued by: Niall Morrissey, Director of Services

Re: Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and Technical Training for the Engineers and Technicians of the Transportation and Road Design Department _________________________________________________________________________                     “In September 2018 the Managing Director of Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers issued Kildare County Council with an invitation to visit their upgraded Bitumen Emulsion production facility/Materials Testing Laboratories at Alexandra Road, Dublin Port, as part of Continuing Professional Development, (CPD), and Technical Training for the Engineers and Technicians of the Transportation and Road Design Department.

Engineers Ireland have represented the Engineering Profession since 1835 and have as one of their core responsibilities the provision of opportunities for Continuing Professional Development for engineers.

Engineers Ireland make it quite clear that the primary purpose of CPD must be educational. Engineers Ireland makes a clear distinction between educational and marketing activities. The decision on whether an activity is primarily educational and relevant or primarily promotional rests solely with Engineers Ireland. Applications are welcomed by Engineers Ireland from any organisation offering learning opportunities to help engineers in their professional development, and as a result Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers are one of over 130 Registered Training Providers.

The Roads Section of Kildare County Council are currently managing in excess of 38 major projects in addition to a large number of minor projects located throughout the County. Due to this workload which includes the ongoing necessity to achieve deadlines and milestones, it proved very difficult to agree an appropriate date for the CPD visit to Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers. Finally it was acknowledged that it was imperative that the KCC employees involved should be afforded the opportunity to avail of the CPD hours on offer and assist them to achieve the obligatory 35 hours CPD required each year. Therefore the date for the visit was agreed for 5th February.

In regard to the logistics of transporting employees who reside in various locations both within and outside the County to the location in Dublin Port, an instruction was issued that a bus would be used to transport employees, thereby reducing the cost of the trip.

As the group were travelling to Dublin City for the Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers visit, a decision was taken to maximise both the employee’s time and transport cost by including another educational visit in Dublin City. After a number of options were discussed it was decided that a visit to Leinster House would best meet the needs of the group i.e. although our employees have some interaction with Leinster House as part of their responsibilities as employee’s of Kildare County Council, very few have ever had the opportunity to visit Dáil Éireann.

Leinster House was contacted to book a tour and it was advised that an Oireachtas Member would be required to officially sign in the group. Consequently Frank O’ Rourke T.D. was contacted and requested to facilitate the visit by the KCC group.

Once the KCC group arrived at Leinster House they were met by an Usher at the entrance gates and were provided with a tour of Dáil Éireann, Seanad Éireann and other areas. Once the tour was completed the Usher suggested to the KCC group that they wait for their bus in 2 the Oireachtas Bar, a similar practice availed of by the vast majority of groups that participate in similar tours. The group purchased their own refreshments while waiting on their bus and before any Oireachtas members arrived. It is important to note that this element of the trip was after 4pm and outside core hours of work. They were eventually joined by a number of the Kildare Oireachtas members; again a normal practice when groups visit Leinster House. Once the bus arrived the group departed. The Group were waiting for the bus for 50/60 minutes in total.

A number of issues have been raised by various individuals and I respond as follows:

 All goods and services purchased by Kildare County Council are subject to Public Procurement rules and guidelines and KCC’s Annual Financial Statement is audited annually by the Local Government Auditor and on a continual basis by an Internal Auditor. The CPD visit to Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers was as outlined earlier strictly for educational purposes and any suggestions otherwise may be forwarded to our legal advisors by KCC

 The annual procurement of bitumen for all Local Authorities is organised by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) via www.SupplyGov.ie

 KCC endeavour to treat all individuals elected to represent the citizens of Kildare equally and therefore we strive to provide information on an equal basis to our Councillors and Oireachtas members; both of whom have a mandate to represent people residing in our County

 The Local Government Act 2001 Code of Conduct for Employees (2007) is the ethical framework which KCC staff are required to adhere to in performing their duties. The Code contents includes General Conduct and Behaviour, Conflict of Personal and Public Interest, Gifts and other issues. The issue of hospitality is addressed in Section 6 of the Code. Section 6.2 states that ‘it is accepted, however, that local government employees should not be in a position where they cannot accept what are regarded as normal courtesies’ and ‘no objection would normally be taken to the acceptance of what is regarded as routine or customary hospitality’.

 CPD is defined as “the systematic maintenance, enhancement and development of knowledge and skill, and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout the practicing engineering professionals career”.The Engineers Ireland CPD Guidelines states “It can’t be CPD if it is your usual work routine and you learned nothing. Work activities can only be counted if you can justify that they are non-routine and contribute to your development as an engineering professional”.

 The visit to Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers took place between 10.30am and 2.15pm. The visit to Leinster House lasted for 2 hours

 There was no necessity to inform the Kildare Oireachtas members in regard to the visit to Leinster House as it was not an official visit. It would have been unfair to interrupt Oireachtas members busy schedules by requesting their presence to meet the KCC group.

 The total cost of the day was €450 (Mini bus hire) 3

 Both the visit to Irish Tar & Bitumen Suppliers and Leinster House are allowable as CPD hours

 The visits were considered and approved by Senior Management in the Roads Section, none of whom would be participating on the CPD visits

The quantity of engineering activity managed by Kildare County Council Roads Section is substantial and it is crucial that our engineering employees avail of all training and continual development opportunities to ensure that our knowledge and practice are up to date at all times. It would be unfair to our citizens and visitors to Kildare if the quality of service provided by our employees was sub-standard to that provided by our colleagues in other local authorities.

In addition it is a challenge for the organisation to recruit and retain engineering employees. The encouragement of, and support for, the CPD process is an intrinsic element in decisions being taken by individuals when deciding to take up posts with KCC.

It is important to note that as we strive in KCC to improve our professionalism in how we serve the people of Kildare, the Roads Engineering employees applied for and secured Engineers Ireland CPD Accredited Employer Status. The work involved in achieving this noteworthy accreditation was carried out separately to their KCC duties.”