Report says Temple Bar body should be scrapped

 

THE BODY that organises cultural events in Dublin’s Temple Bar should be wound down within two to three years, according to a report commissioned by Dublin City Council.

The confidential report, which will be discussed at next Monday’s council meeting, says the abolition of the Temple Bar Cultural Trust could save the council €800,000 a year.

The council is the trust’s 100 per cent shareholder.

The trust was established 20 years ago and its primary source of income is rent from properties in Temple Bar, which it uses to fund cultural activities.

In March, Dublin city manager John Tierney announced the appointment of Latitude consultants to conduct the review of the trust.

According to the consultants’ 48-page report, the trust had an income of €2.2 million last year, 86 per cent of which was derived from property and related activity, the remainder from grants. Of this, €470,000 was spent on cultural activities.

Forty per cent of all income was spent on salaries, although this has risen to 50 per cent in 2011, exclusive of directors’ fees, according to budgeted accounts prepared at the start of this year.

According to the report, the trust employs 16 people, including its chief executive.

Salaries range from €28,000 to €103,000, with the chief executive’s salary loosely comparable to the salary of a higher principal officer in the Civil Service. Salaries for higher principal officers can range up to €105,000.

The report recommends that the functions of the trust should transfer to Dublin City Council, with the council assuming responsibility for managing and supporting Temple Bar as a cultural quarter.

It proposes that some of the trust’s personnel should transfer to the council following the handover.

In the interim period, any board member of the trust who has served more than six years on the board should be replaced immediately, the report states.

The 13-strong board includes four Dublin city councillors, Dublin City Council representatives, as well as a representative from business representative group Temple Bar Traders.

Independent Dublin city councillor Cieran Perry, who is not a board member of the trust, is to table a motion at next Monday’s Dublin City Council meeting calling for an extraordinary general meeting of the trust in order to discuss the issue of board configuration.

The trust currently controls 91 properties. It is also responsible for Meeting House Square, Temple Bar Square, Curved Street and Cow Lane.

It has had a number of high-profile disputes with tenants over rent in recent months.

The report notes that relations between the trust and the representative body Temple Bar Traders “do not function well”.

It recommends that the trust should “change the tone of the relationship with Temple Bar Traders to one that is more collaborative”.

Temple Bar Cultural Trust had no comment to make when contacted by The Irish Timesyesterday.