Abolition of town councils discussed

Members of Bundoran Town Council expressed serious concerns about the town’s future amidst speculation that Bundoran Town Council will be abolished.

Members of Bundoran Town Council expressed serious concerns about the town’s future amidst speculation that Bundoran Town Council will be abolished.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is expected to make a detailed announcement on the issue in the near future as part of the reform of local government.

Cllr. Sean McEniff put forward a motion at Tuesday’s council meeting, which read: “That Council members discuss what the alternative arrangements will be re. street cleaning, tourism, etc. when the Town Council is abolished.”

He said: “This is a very serious motion. We have our street cleaners out seven days a week, early in the morning. Donegal County Council will not give us that. We have invested substantially in tourism: DCC will not give us a tourism officer, we will lose that.

“This town is an example of how any town should be run, we have a good bank balance, we support all kinds of community groups. I can see it sliding downhill the minute we lose the town council. It’s going to be a bad, bad, bad day for Bundoran.”

Cllr. Elizabeth McIntyre (FF) added: “Lots of other services will suffer. Whether DCC would even spend what they do at the moment on street cleaning is questionable. I think an urgent meeting is called for to find out what way we will be provided with services.

Cllr Denise Connolly (FG) agreed. “I think this is a retrograde step, to abolish local councils. I think street cleaning is a good example because how our town is kept says a lot and has an affect on tourism, our main industry. If streets are not kept, our product suffers and we lose business. It will only be then that the townspeople will realise what’s been done all these years – maintenance, cutting grass, etc. How everything is going to be maintained, improved and paid for – these are serious questions.”

Cllr. Mick McMahon (SF) said: “It is a cause for concern that town councils would be abolished because it is a step against democracy. Also, the work that has been done by Bundoran Town Council over the years is there for everyone to see and is second to none. It wouldn’t be done as well by DCC and I think we have to be realistic about that. There are ten people working for the council, and that’s an achievement. And the council offices here, and the machinery and the housing stock - they’re all very substantial assets for the town. It would be a sad loss for the people of the community and surrounding area.”

Town Manager Garry Martin commented: “No formal decision has been made yet to my knowledge, although there are strong indications that a decision will be made known this week. I find myself conflicted, as Town Manager and as Head of Finance for the County Council.

“From a town council perspective, if I were a town councillor, I would want to retain the town council because it gives you a control over certain functions that you wouldn’t have without it.

“There has been no indication as to how assets/liabilities might be transferred. I would imagine there would be a transition period of some sort, and the County Manager is of the same view.”

It was agreed that the council would request a meeting with officials from Donegal County Council to discuss the issues. Cllr. McEniff concluded: “We can look at everything, and we should ensure that Bundoran retains any grants we have been given.”