Threat of le­gal action scup­pers amend­ments


Bray People - - Council Report -

THE MUCH-DE­BATED Newtownmountkennedy Lo­cal Area Plan 2008-2014 of­fered cause for con­tro­versy within Wick­low County Coun­cil with a num­ber of mem­bers re­fus­ing to vote for fear of fu­ture le­gal action which could be taken against them.

It emerged at Mon­day’s meet­ing that a num­ber of let­ters from var­i­ous le­gal firms had been re­ceived by mem­bers in re­la­tion to the plan in re­cent weeks, some of which out­lin­ing that coun­cil­lors can face per­sonal ac­tions over de­ci­sions made in cham­ber.

Cllr. Jimmy O’Shaugh­nessy was par­tic­u­larly both­ered by the let­ters and told his fel­low mem­bers that he would not be vot­ing on any amend­ments for this rea­son.

‘Law agents are say­ing that we are li­able. We would all be very fool­ish to make any de­ci­sion to­day without ad­vice from law agents.

‘This could go on to haunt us. I want to go home to my wife and say that my house is safe. I could end up liv­ing in a wig­wam,’ he said. ‘You might not get plan­ning per­mis­sion!’ quipped Cllr. Pat Casey.

Cllr. Pat Vance said that the key is­sue was that de­ci­sions were made in good faith.

‘I’m not afraid to take de­ci­sions in good faith. An aw­ful lot of ef­fort and thought has gone into this. We should ad­dress th­ese is­sues.

‘I stand over de­ci­sions as I make them in the right frame of mind.’

Cllr. John Byrne asked if the county man­ager could in­tro­duce some form of pro­ce­dure to pro­tect mem­bers of staff and the coun­cil.

‘There are al­le­ga­tions but we have to pro­tect the in­tegrity of the Coun­cil and its peo­ple. We have also had a mem­ber of the Coun­cil make al­le­ga­tions which were false against a staff mem­ber, he said.

‘I am not vot­ing on this amend­ment. From a le­gal point of view I think it is bet­ter to ab­stain. There have been so many se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions.’

Th­ese con­cerns come af­ter it was al­leged that Cllr. Tom For­tune at­tended a meet­ing be­tween a ven­dor and a pur­chaser re­gard­ing a large par­cel of land, and ad­di­tional al­le­ga­tions that a Coun­cil of­fi­cial as­sured the de­vel­oper that their in­vest­ment would be se­cure.

In a state­ment at Mon­day’s meet­ing Cllr. For­tune said that he was not present at the meet­ing and that the de­vel­oper had apol­o­gised for send­ing a let­ter to this ef­fect.

Cllr. Jimmy O’Shaugh­nessy ‘could end up liv­ing in a wig­wam’.

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