Council outline each step of the process of nomination and allocation of potential tenants to Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) social housing units in the district

My second motion at today’s (16th May) Municipal District Meeting, ‘That the council clearly outline each step of the process of nomination and allocation of potential tenants to Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) social housing units in the district including ; what person/s in the council identifies potential tenants from the council’s social housing list; how are the potential tenants identified using what criteria; how is the decision arrived at, is there a round table discussion of potential tenants; whose opinion is invited, either inside or outside the council in identifying potential tenants; how many potential tenants over and above the number of places available are identified for each unit; what role does the Approved Housing Body or any member of the Approved Housing Body have, either formally or informally in short listing or vetoing or influencing in any way the final selection of potential tenants.

Here is the report issued by: Ms S Scully, Administrative Officer, Housing Section : Kildare County Council has 100% nomination rights to properties provided by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) under the Social Leasing Scheme and the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme; both schemes provide funding for general needs housing. The Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) provides housing for special categories of need and, in accordance with the rules of the CAS, in instances where an AHB received only 95% of the capital cost of the scheme they will retain 25% nomination rights. In the event that an AHB purchases a property through the Mortgage to Rent Scheme (MTR), the previous owner is entitled to remain in the property, no nomination is required, however, MTR applicants must qualify for social housing. AHBs manage transfer requests within their own stock. Nominations to AHBs are made in accordance with Kildare County Council’s Allocation Scheme for Social Housing 2016, adopted by full council on 28 November 2016. Allocations are made on a time on the list basis, with a provision for priority status in certain circumstances (Part 2 of the Allocations Scheme refers). Where a vacancy arises in the AHBs stock, or a new property becomes available, one household from the housing list will be selected by the Allocations Team, following consultation with the Housing Officer, and referred to the relevant AHB. Each household nominated is Garda checked and the AHB has an opportunity to interview the potential tenant. As part of the annual compliance process AHBs are requested to supply details of tenants residing in their properties. This information is compared with the information provided in the previous year and this exercise ensures that, where required, Kildare County Council is notified of vacancies.

Approved Housing Body

My first motion at today’s (16th May) Municipal District meeting, ‘That the council clarify what steps it has taken to ensure that the conditions that existed at the time public monies were allegedly stolen from an Approved Housing Body in the district no longer exist before distributing further public monies from the €86 million allocated to Kildare County Council to deliver social housing including ; the number of signatures required for cheques then and now; the financial/auditing expertise on the board then and now; the frequency and detail of financial reporting from the Approved Housing Body to the council; which policies/protocols of the Approved Housing Body in question have been changed to safeguard against theft/fraud in the future; what account has the then Chair been asked to give in relation to the board’s failure to safeguard against theft/fraud.

Here is the report issued by Ms S Scully, Administrative Officer, Housing Section: The role of Kildare County Council in relation to Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) is to (a) ensure Approved Housing Bodies compliance with funding schemes, (b) enter into new Payment and Availability agreements, Capital Advance and Leasing facility agreements and provide funding under the Capital Assistance Scheme (c) enforce the conditions of mortgage agreements (d) ensure Approved Housing Bodies compliance with tenant nomination policies. It is the responsibility of the Regulation Office to regulate the operation of Approved Housing Bodies by monitoring compliance with the standards laid down in the Voluntary Regulatory Code-‘Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulatory Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland’ (VRC). Approved Housing Bodies are required to complete an annual regulatory return, reporting on six aspects of their organisation, this includes governance and finance (Tier 1 AHBs). In order to qualify for new funding provided for by Rebuilding Ireland, it is a requirement that Approved Housing Bodies are signed up to the VRC. Kildare County Council requires Approved Housing Bodies and housing associations who have availed of funding under the Capital Assistance Scheme, Capital Assistance Scheme and Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme to complete an annual compliance return, this return consists of information relating to (a) contact details (b) details of directors (c) insurance details (d) rent calculations (e) financial statements (f) maintenance allowance (g) occupancy statements and void rates. To date the housing association in question has achieved compliance with the annual compliance process.

It is not within the remit of Kildare County Council to carry out the type of investigation outlined in the motion.

Breakdown of Kildare County Council’s expenditure across all local and national media from 2014

My motion at today’s Full Council Meeting, ‘That the council provide a breakdown of its expenditure across all local and national media from 2014.

Here is the report issued by: Mr T McDonnell, Director of Service, Housing and Corporate Services : Breakdown of expenditure on media (Local & National) from 2014

Year                                                Local                                            National

2014                                         €149,174.85                               €84,324.12

2015                                         €118,468.78                               €71,227.78

2016                                         €65,656.88                                 €15,005.43

2017                                         €214,555.21                                 €337,633.54

2018 to March                       €10,177.93                                    €10,795.72

 

 

Report on Live Streaming of Full Council

Motion from Councillor McLoughlin Healy 20/1117 – That the council follow the lead of other county councils around the country who have enhanced the transparency and accountability of their councils while protecting against misrepresentations of what happens in the chamber and introduce either streaming or transcription of council meetings.

The Protocol Committee considered a final report on this item at their March meeting and agreed that this report be circulated to the members of the full council along with confirmation of the cost involved which is approximately €15,000 per annum excluding the set up costs, and that this item be listed for consideration at the April meeting.

Webcasting report March Protocol (3)

 

KWETB board appoint committee to review engagement of legal advisors and payment of €82k legal fees

A committee has been appointed by the Board of the KWETB to review the hiring of legal firm, Philip Lee as advisors in response to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Audit and subsequent investigation by the Department of Education and Skills and the payment of the €82,000 fees.

“ I wish to thank the Board members who supported my proposal that a committee be appointed to review both the engagement and payment of legal advisors for compliance with the Code of Practice for Education and Training Board’s. We owe it to tax-payers who have funded the payment of the €82,000 bill to get answers to questions around how the advisors were hired, what the terms of engagement were and where the legal files are. I am hopeful that this committee which is to report to the Chair of the KWETB in a month will get answers to those questions’ states Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy

At a Board meeting in December the executive (senior staff of KWETB) asked the board for direction regarding a letter demanding that legal fees of €82,000 be paid. Board members were reluctant to pay the bill and stated a number of reasons why. There were concerns that by the time the Board was made aware of the investigation or of the need for legal advice that almost €40,000 had already been raised in legal fees. Members also pointed out that they were being asked to pay for legal fees while at the same time being denied access to the legal files they were being asked to pay for. The matter was deferred to the next meeting on January 9th.

At the follow up meeting on January 9th Board members expressed shock and outrage when they were informed that the Acting CE had issued an instruction for the bill to be paid despite the expressed concerns of the Board.

At their Board meeting held on Monday (5th February)  in Tinakilly House hotel, Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy received support for her proposal to appoint a committee to report back to Noel Merrick Chair of the Board within a month regarding the bill. Board members voted on three  terms of reference. Firstly, that the committee review the circumstances around the hiring of the legal advisors Philip Lee. Secondly, that the committee review the circumstances around the payment of the €82,000 legal fee. And finally that the committee review the engagement of and payment to legal advisors for compliance with the Code of Practice for Education and Training Boards. With the exception of former Vice-Chair Cllr Brendan Weld who abstained from the votes, all Board members present on the day voted in favour of McLoughlin Healy’s proposal.

The Board nominated Cllr McLoughlin Healy, John Hurley and Cllr Reada Cronin to the committee tasked with the review and to report back to the Chair in a month.  The newly appointed Acting CE was not present at Monday’s meeting as he was on medical leave.

Monday’s meeting was a productive one. The executive also agreed to upload each board members remuneration from KWETB interview panels and conferences etc onto our website together with the Annual Financial Statement. This is a welcome development on the journey towards a more transparent and accountable organisation . Although the Code of Practice specifically recommends that board members earnings from KWETB be published, this has not been adhered to previously’ stated Cllr McLoughlin Healy

Cllr Teresa Murray asked that the Board be provided with a list of appointments at their bi-monthly meetings. Cllrs Jennifer Whitmore and Fiona McLoughlin Healy specifically asked for a list of all promotions awarded since the Comptroller and Auditor General arrived on site to conduct the audit which eventually led to the current investigation by the Department of Education and Skills
Last Monday’s public KWETB board meeting held in Tinakilly House Hotel.

Newbridge Town Hall New Payment Schedule

I am truly delighted to report that after over a year of lobbying for a fairer pricing structure for use of Newbridge Town Hall my fellow Cllrs approved a new payment schedule which I hope will make our town hall more accessible to community groups.

Here is the Payment Schedule as approved today.

Commercial – €40.00 per hour

Community – €15.00 per hour – rate after two hrs will decrease to €10.00 per hour

Day rate community – €60.00

Waiver:

Groups and events which will be considered for waivers are:

• Schools
• Public meeting
• Council events
• Community training eg Community first responders

Payments methods:
At the moment payments can be made on level 2 at Kildare County Council cash office, Aras Chill Dara. Groups will be invoiced on a monthly basis. I have asked that the Council move to a card based payment option they are considering as quickly as possible

Booking:
Groups will contact the facilities department in Aras Chill Dara by phone or email to make a booking.

Much work has yet to be done in managing and marketing the town hall and it was confirmed today that the Council is taking over the management the marketing and the accountability for this facility and I look forward to progress in that regard!

It is a beautiful, historic asset, centrally located within the community that we fought hard to get renovated and reopened after years of being dilapidated and closed. And I am grateful for the Council’s commitment to its refurbishment. But tax-payers investment in our town hall must pay community dividends. Our town hall must be accessible to all. I hope this is the start of a new era of collaboration between the community and the Council to achieve the full potential of this beautiful amenity.

#NewbridgeTownHall #Community #CommunityBenefit #FairAccess

See a sample of my previous council motions at the following links

My initial proposal for a differentiated pricing structure
http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/review-town-hall/

One of my motions re review of Newbridge Town Hall
http://fmcloughlinhealy.ie/can-director-service-overall-re…/

Governance of local Approved Housing Bodies

My first question at  this month’s (18th April)  Municipal District meeting, ‘ Given previous concerns about governance of local Approved Housing Bodies which were sufficient to trigger a national audit approximately three years ago, can the council reassure members that the recommendations of both the national and local audit committees referencing Approved Housing Bodies in the municipal district have been fully implemented, in particular, each of the thirteen recommendations under the following eight headings:

  • Registration of Mortgage,
  • Nominations and Statement of Occupancy,
  • Inspections,
  • Record of Meetings,
  • Corporate Governance,
  • Financial Matters,
  • Leasing Arrangements
  • and Capital Projects.

Here is the report issued by Ms S Scully, Administrative Officer, Housing: The role of Kildare County Council is to (a) ensure Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) compliance with funding schemes, (b) enter into new Payment and Availability agreements, Capital Advance and Leasing facility agreements and provide funding under the Capital Assistance Scheme (c) enforce the conditions of mortgage agreements (d) ensure AHB compliance with tenant nomination policies.
In a recent progress report to the Local Government Audit Service on VFM Report No. 29, Kildare County Council reported either full or partial compliance on 23 of the 26 recommendations contained in the original report. An Acting Staff Officer was recently appointed to the Leasing Section and the focus of their role will be on completing retrospective work relating to outstanding items raised by both the national and local audit. Kildare County Council confirms that it withholds Management and Maintenance subsidies from AHBs who do not comply with annual compliance requirements.

Update on the implementation of Jakes Law in the KildareNewbridge Municipal District

My second question at this month’s (18th April) Municipal District meeting, ‘Can the council provide an update on the implementation of Jakes Law in the KildareNewbridge Municipal District including a list of estates that applied for Jakes Law signage in the first two phases and the council’s timeline for the roll out of the scheme across all estates?

Here is the report issued by ;Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads Transportation and Public Safety Section:  The following estates submissions were received under Phase 1 of Jake’s Law:

  •  Liffey Hall (The Walk, The Court, The Heath, The Avenue and The Downs)
  • Standhouse Lawns Estate
  • Pomeroy Park Estate

The signage is now in place in these estates. The following estates applied for signage to be installed under Phase 2 of Jake’s Law.

  • College Park
  • The Priory
  • Wellesley Manor
  • Pairc Mhuire
  • The Oaks
  • The Great Southern
  • Preston Brook

These estates will be assessed for signage as part of the Countywide Speed Limit Review which has commenced. The signage will be installed as part of this programme.

Update re: public lighting on the Green Road

My first motion at this month’s (18th April) Municipal District Meeting, ‘ In light of the four year campaign to get new lighting in this municipal district area, that the council provide an update on the October 2017 report which stated that ‘The Public Lighting section will shortly make an assessment for lighting on the Green Road in accordance with the Kildare Lighting Infrastructure Priority Schedule (KLIPS)’.

Here is the report issued by Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads Transportation and Public Safety Section: The Public Lighting Section has visited the location and carried out an assessment based on the criteria set out in KLIPS. The cost of installing the lights at this location is in the range of €75,000 to €80,000. There is currently no funding in this year’s public lighting budget to carry out the works. The request will be ranked on the KLIPS register and will be carried out contingent upon availability of funds and where the request sits in the KLIPS ranking register.

Dara Park Surface Water Scheme

My second motion at this month’s (18th April) Municipal District meeting, ‘In light of the failure of large swathes of the green area in Dara Park to recover and thrive, that the council reassess the landscaping works carried out at Dara Park after the Flood Alleviation Scheme works and clarify the following: how much the landscaping contract was worth separate to the flood alleviation scheme works; how the landscaping contractors were selected; and when the snag list requested by local residents is to be completed.

Report: See item 19.

No 19.MotionCouncillor S Power

That the council confirm that all works recently undertaken on behalf of the council at Dara Park have been completed to the satisfaction of the council and if an indication could be given as to what other works (environmental, footpaths, flood prevention) are planned for the area.

Report: Dara Park Surface Water Scheme

The aim of the scheme was to provide protection to the many properties that were affected by flooding on a regular basis. To do this, a new surface water network was constructed, and additional storage areas for extreme flooding were created. The scheme is now operational and working to the satisfaction of the council, as proven on the 22 November, where despite a blockage to the outfall, no properties were flooding by surface water.

Kildare County Council can now issue letters of comfort to the residents stating that the scheme offers protection for up to a 1% Annual Exceedence Probability event (equivalent to a 1 in 100 year storm). This is the standard required by insurers.

  • A substantial amount of additional works were carried out by the main Contractor including:
  • Landscaping plan (as presented and agreed by the Residents Association, April 4th 2016).(Construction of the plan represents approx 10% of total contract value).(The overall total in respect of works on the site is €255,000 .)
  • 410 metres of additional land drainage in the detention basin and north of the lake to remove existing ponding and create additional usable park land
  • Tarmacadaming of the paved area at the entrance to the estate
  • Cleaning of the lake and covering the existing outfall with a steel grid

There were also a number of additional items added to the contract, as a result of requests from the Residents Associations. These included:

  • 170 metres of additional footpaths
  • Removal of the boulders from the boundaries of the green areas
  • Topsoiling of the old tennis courts
  • Repairing of walls damaged by previous works
  • Construction of additional gullies to drain existing footpaths

A snag list was issued by the design consultant (which also included all issues raised by the Residents Associations at their site meeting with Directors of Services and Consulting Engineer on Thursday 18th May 2017). The only relevant outstanding item on the snag list refers to the trees planted by the Residents Associations adjacent to the Resource Centre which will require replanting, as they have been planted in close proximity to the new surface water pipeline and may compromise the network as they grow. These works will be carried out by Kildare County Council in the autumn.

As the purpose of the scheme was to resolve the surface water flooding affecting properties no further flood alleviation works in the area are required.

A final landscaping walkover was carried out by an independent landscape consultant on July 10 2017, who recommended that the works be monitored over a 12 month period to assess the success of the landscaping. Given the severe weather which occurred in February and March of this year and the very poor growing season to date, the assessment of the landscaping will continue to July 2018. The areas in question will continue to be monitored.

Report Issued by: Ms E Wright, Senior Executive Officer, Roads Transportation and Public Safety Section.