The Kildare Business Wisdom Council, who were responsible for the hugely successful Busk and Food Festival earlier this year, is in the process of planning a Christmas Market in the Town Hall for this Christmas. As a founder member of the group I am particularly eager that the development and the setting up of the management structure is on track.
Following a recent query to the Director of Service re the Christmas market and why there was such a delay in setting up the management structure for the Town Hall, I discovered that the seating formed part of the ‘next’ contract for which an extra €225,000 has been ear-marked. (This contradicts a recent onsite visit at which Cllrs were asked to make a decision re seating – so that this current contract could be completed ?)
This was the first I had heard of the extra funding required or allocated. And while I am delighted at the serious intent that is being given to complete the Town Hall which has lain unused for over 30 years, it is entirely unacceptable to cover up /hide/ refuse to reveal where the funding of the entire cost of the Town Hall has come from.
In advance of the recent Municipal District Meeting, I did not receive the usual written report to the question I had submitted asking for a breakdown of the complete cost and funding of the Town Hall. I was informed that a verbal report would be given at the meeting.
The official reporting however, was unable to give a definitive breakdown of the cost or funding source for
1) the initial contract – including the re-roofing of the Hall
This contract was initiated before the lifetime of the current County Council and Municipal District. It cost in the region of €300,000* to repair the roof and bring the Hall to a point where the hall would not continue to deteriorate. The plan was then to turn the key to lock it up again.
2) the current contract – to refurbish the Hall to a point at which we can open its doors to the public
Following a sustained campaign and in the lifetime of this new Council I was delighted that the new CEO agreed to allocate €400,000 to the development of the Town Hall to a point at which we could open its doors. Management of the Town Hall as a viable commercial entity with a broad community brief , was to be given back to the community after public consultation.
Public consultation has taken so long to pursue that some of the people who had both the skills and capacity to really drive the Town Hall project that I had asked to consider participating, have since lost interest due to the slow progress.
I was only recently informed by the Director of Service with oversight of the Town Hall development, ( who didn’t accompany Cllrs at the recent onsite visit or attend to report on my question re the breakdown of funding) that the seating was part of the ‘next’ contract.
At last weeks very welcome onsite visit it became apparent however that Cllrs were being asked to make a decision about seating in advance of the long awaited public consultation, something I refused to do.
3) the next contract – which may or may not include seating/kitchen/exterior works and for which €225,000 has been allocated according to the Director of Service.
The Mayor has stated that the former Newbridge Town Council has paid for the development of the Town Hall.
It is likely however, that the former Town Council would not have had the €900,000 ballpark,required to develop the Town Hall. It is more than likely that other sources of funding were required and so should be clarified.
To reiterate what I stated at the recent Municipal District meeting, funding sources need to be clarified and the former Town Council’s role in helping fund the development as a whole acknowledged clearly and publicly.
Finally, at our recent Municipal District meeting it was decided that Cllrs are to set up a steering group, to set up the management company , to manage the Town Hall. My concern is that if a small majority of Cllrs decide the Steering Group then decision making and power becomes even more centralised.
(note- I was delayed leaving a meeting with Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance, at the Keadeen that morning, therefore missed the pre-amble to this decision. So I remain open to correction as to the intent/purpose/value of the Steering Group)
Perhaps the Director of Service could give us the rationale and a sample model for creating a Steering Group as well as a Management Group for the Town Hall.