Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Council criticised for Cnoc Na Greine lights issue

Kildare County Council's officials were told in no uncertain terms yesterday that 'not taken in charge' is a completely unacceptable response to the street lighting problems in Cnoc Na Gréine, writes Brian Byrne.

The issue, highlighted on Monday on the Diary, was raised by Cllr Rob Power (FF) at yesterday's meeting of the Naas Municipal District. He said that people living in the estate, comprising over 300 houses, 'don't feel safe' and 'can't walk from one end to the other without going into darkness'.

The response from the authority was that 'the housing estate is not taken in charge of Kildare County Council and the Transportation Department is not responsible for lighting in the estate'.

The meeting heard that the company which developed the estate is in receivership, but that the developer himself is 'still in business'. Cllr Power asked why the €75,000 bond held by the Council on the development is not being utilised to deal with the problem? "The evenings are getting shorter, and the residents at this stage are at a loss," he said, adding that the Council should deal with the situation 'directly'.

Cllr Fintan Brett (FG) said he found it hard to understand how problems like this can't be dealt with, and that it is a health and safety issue that really doesn't cost a lot to fix. "Most of the time it's the bulbs or the sensors, and they don't cost thousands. These people are paying their LPT and we should be obliged to see that they get value for it. This is not a high cost, and we should be proactive in dealing with it if the builder isn't doing his job." He suggested that the Council should have a designated person to fix such problems.

Cllr Darren Scully (FG) said that 'it's just not good enough' for the Council to give planning permissions and take bonds, and not be responsible if a builder doesn't fulfil his part. "People have paid for their houses, paid Stamp Duty, and are paying LPT," he said. "This authority took the bond in case something went wrong. We should do what is right by the residents, and subsequently pursue the developer, and I hope that the Council uses a bit of common sense here." Cllr Hillis (FG) agreed, saying that it's only a matter of switching the lights on.

Cllr Sorcha O'Neill (SF) said that lights in the estate had been fixed several times by Airtricity, the lights maintenance contractor to the Council, but that the residents had 'worn out their favours' with the company. She said it was a small amount of money to fix the matter, and it should be taken from the bond now. "I understand that the residents committee in the estate disbanded because they've been banging their head off a wall here."

Cllr Seamie Moore (Ind), in the chair, said that there were quite a few similar situations on the Agenda over the term of the last Council. "I thought that the Council had taken a softer view on them, where the infrastructure exists. I'd ask that they look at this case."

Cllr Power suggested that the Council ask the builder to fix the lights within a set period, and if he didn't, then the Council should do it and bill him.

Cllr James Lawless (FF) said it reflected the fact that the taking in charge of estates had all but stopped in recent times. "At the last Council meeting we passed a motion that the authority should go ahead with taking a number of estates in charge, and we should get along with that."

The meeting was told that a 'more detailed report' on what is holding things up would be provided.

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