Councillor queries HSE West's rental bill
A FORMER city mayor has questioned why the HSE West is spending almost half its entire annual rent budget for Galway, of over €2 million, on one premises.
Independent councillor Catherine Connolly says she also intends to ask the HSE West regional forum why more rent is being paid for fewer properties, when there is land and empty buildings on the Merlin Park hospital campus.
Figures released by HSE West show that Galway city and county pay a rent of €2,236,431 for premises used by the health services. This includes €865,107 for community services in West City Centre retail park.
Some 43 properties are being leased in all, compared with 70 properties leased or rented in 2009 at a cost of €2,159,473.
“How can we be paying more taxpayers’ money for less?” Cllr Connolly asked. She said HSE West owned over 140 acres of land at Merlin Park and a commitment had been given to move services there where possible.
In a written response to Cllr Connolly in May, HSE West estates manager Joe Molloy said “current actions on rental commitments – including availing of scheduled breaks on existing leases – are due to deliver further significant reductions from 2013 onwards”.
“When we are in a position to vacate leased property . . . the option of relocation to HSE-owned property is always considered,” he said, and “such relocations to date have involved movement of services into Merlin Park.
“While remaining space for future movements is limited and would require some capital investment, further opportunities will be examined as they arise,” he said.
Cllr Connolly noted that a recently opened primary care centre at Doughiska, close to Merlin Park, costs €240,429 a year.
“I intend to pursue what progress if any has been made in reducing the cost to the taxpayer,” she said.