Plan for new Dún Laoghaire town hall to be dropped
Smaller chairs will be used to accommodate increased number of councillors
Under reforms planned by Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council had proposed a new chamber, which will now not go ahead. Photograph: Eric Luke
A proposal to develop a new €800,000 council chamber for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is being dropped. The council put the plan out to consultation last year, saying a new chamber was needed to accommodate an increase in councillors from 28 to 40 after the next local elections, under reforms planned by Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan.
It involved inserting a floor in the central concourse in the new part of the town hall to create an overhead chamber. However the plan did not receive a favourable response from the public.
The existing chamber contained in the old part of Dún Laoghaire Town Hall, a protected structure, will be adjusted instead to accommodate an increase in the numbers of councillors. The measures planned include creating more space by replacing the existing wide leather chairs containing armrests with narrower chairs without armrests. An extra tier of seating will be added to the centre of the chamber and an extra exit is planned for fire safety reasons.
The issue will come up for discussion at the council’s monthly meeting on Monday.
Separately, the council has passed its annual budget. The completion of the €165 million budget was delayed because of protracted negotiations with Irish Water and the Department of the Environment over the transfer of assets and responsibilities to the new authority. The council will continue to maintain Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s water service under a service level agreement with the water authority.
County manager Kathleen Houlihan told councillors that €230 million in assets were transferred to Irish Water. “The bulk of funding to provide those assets came from central government and the EU,” she said.
Director of finance Helena Cunningham said the county was “not any worse off due to the transfer” in terms of what it was allocated as part of the local government fund.
Also in the budget, councillors were told almost €400,000 in local property tax would be paid by the council for its social housing stock. Councillors Victor Boyhan (Ind) and Barry Saul (FG) suggested the cost should be passed on to council tenants, but director of housing Tom McHugh said the tax could not legally be added to tenants’ rent. They had also just stabilised rent arrears. “I would be concerned that trying to recover the local property tax would be very difficult,” he said.
Councillors were unanimous in their welcome of plans for a long-awaited women’s refuge in Dún Laoghaire. Four units of accommodation, to be managed by Solas housing, are to be provided as part of a pilot project using a grant of €170,000. They also welcomed funding for the Blackrock Library due to reopen this spring and for the Joyce Tower, once it is transferred from Fáilte Ireland.