Coun­cil­lors call for more power for all dis­tricts

Bray People - - NEWS -

THE Cor­po­rate Pol­icy Group will pro­duce a doc­u­ment for July’s meet­ing of Wick­low County Coun­cil which will out­line the del­e­ga­tion of greater func­tions to Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts.

The mat­ter was placed on the agenda for Mon­day’s meet­ing of the coun­cil af­ter Cllr Steven Matthews had pre­vi­ously called for Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts to carry out cer­tain func­tions rather than Wick­low County Coun­cil.

‘By bring­ing power back to the dis­tricts, we will get bet­ter re­sults be­cause no one knows the is­sues bet­ter than the peo­ple who rep­re­sent those ar­eas,’ said Cllr Matthews.

The pop­u­lar feel­ing within the coun­cil cham­ber was that Part 8s and Lo­cal Area Plans should be del­e­gated to the rel­e­vant district.

Coun­cil cathaoir­leach Cllr Ed­ward Tim­mins sup­ported the Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts hav­ing more power.

‘We have seen how a Part 8 can dom­i­nate th­ese coun­cil meet­ings and take up a lot of time, of­ten dou­ble or triple what it should be. It goes to the Mu­nic­i­pal District, then back to the coun­cil, then back to the Mu­nic­i­pal District again.’

Cllr Joe Be­han won­dered why the elected mem­bers hadn’t been in­formed that cer­tain func­tions could be car­ried out by the Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts when Coun­cil­lors de­bated a re­cent Part 8 in Bray and the Bray Lo­cal Area Plan at re­cent County Coun­cil meet­ings.

‘Both of those is­sues could have been de­cided by Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District. I am nearly cer­tain I was told it couldn’t hap­pen at Mu­nic­i­pal District level.

‘I got the im­pres­sion it all had to be done in Wick­low. This has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for some de­ci­sions re­cently made in this cham­ber re­gard­ing Bray,’ said Cllr Be­han.

Cllr Tom For­tune said he had been a critic of the mu­nic­i­pal district for­mat since it re­placed town coun­cils in 2014.

‘I am on record when the dis­tricts were put in place that pow­ers that should have been given to them hadn’t been. The mu­nic­i­pal district model is ab­so­lutely ideal only if it is given plenty of power and the fi­nan­cial in­put it needs. It would be more demo­cratic to have all items dis­cussed at district level,’ he said.

In essence, Cllr Grainne McLough­lin agreed with a Part 8 be­ing car­ried out by the dis­tricts but she had con­cerns over po­ten­tial hung-votes.

‘ The prob­lem is when a district has eight or six mem­bers. If the vote is 50-50 then the de­cid­ing vote goes to the district Cathaoir­leach. If that proves to be the case in the fu­ture, then I think that par­tic­u­lar Part 8 should go to the full coun­cil.’

Cllr Ni­cola Lawless said: ‘Any pow­ers that can be given back to Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts should be, in­clud­ing bye-laws. It would free up more time in this cham­ber for more pro­duc­tive work.’

Cllr Christo­pher Fox agreed with crux of what Cllr Matthews was call­ing for.

‘A lot of time dis­cus­sions hap­pen at Mu­nic­i­pal District level any­way when in­volv­ing an Area Development Plan. Most of the dis­cus­sions have al­ready taken place be­fore they even get to this cham­ber and some mem­bers weren’t privy to those dis­cus­sions,’ said Cllr Fox.

Cllr Vin­cent Blake of­fered his sup­port to al­low­ing the Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts have more of a say.

‘I would al­ways en­deav­our to make my­self aware of what I was vot­ing on in this cham­ber, whether it is in Bray or else­where. How­ever, their may be some con­tentious mat­ters that do need to come back to the full coun­cil cham­ber,’ he said.

Cllr Oliver O’Brien ref­er­enced a re­cent Bray Mu­nic­i­pal District meet­ing on spend­ing money gen­er­ated from South­ern Cross.

‘We had four mem­bers in favour and four against and the chair­man had the bal­anc­ing vote. In those sort of cases, I think ei­ther the district has to be changed to an un­even num­ber or the mat­ter has to be de­ferred back to the county coun­cil.’

Cllr Gerry Walsh also didn’t feel that al­low­ing the chair­man to have the de­cid­ing votes in such cases was ‘sat­is­fac­tory.’

Cllr John Ryan had some reser­va­tions over del­e­gat­ing too many func­tions back to Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­tricts.

‘I was elected as a mem­ber of Wick­low County Coun­cil. What we are dis­cussing here could mean that I get ab­so­lutely no say over some­thing that hap­pens just over the Bray bor­der, say in Grey­stones for ex­am­ple. I think that’s wrong. For in­stance, if it is some­thing to do with Grey­stones Har­bour then I want a say.’

The mat­ter will go be­fore the Cor­po­rate Pol­icy Group who will re­turn to the July meet­ing with a pol­icy doc­u­ment.

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