Amalgamation of North & South Tipperary County Councils 'a disaster'

Amalgamation of North & South Tipperary County Councils  'a disaster'

After over three years since the amalgamation of County Councils in the South and North of the County some councillors have labelled the move as a disaster.

Councillors, dissatisfied with the amalgamation process which saw the abolition of town councils, have demanded that an impact assessment be carried out on the process by the government.

The amalgamation has seen a disconnect from the Council in local areas and a reduction of services, according to councillors who supported a call for an impact assessment to be carried out at the Febuary meeting of Tipperary County Council held in Clonmel on Monday.

There were no dissenting voices to a motion tabled by nine Councillors calling for the impact assessment to be carried out following the closure of all the Town Councils and Clonmel Borough Council and the amalgamation of South and North Tipperary County Councils into Tipperary County Council.

While some members agreed that some elements of the amalgamation had been a success, acknowledging gains have been made in the branding of Tipperary as a single unit with obvious benefits for the promotion of tourism in the county.

Chief Executive Officer Joe MacGrath said he had no difficulty in the Council asking the government for an impact assessment of the amalgamation. He felt the process had been a success while issues centred around the challenges of adequate resources and funding.

Cllr. Pat English said amalgamation was a very poor decision which was forced on the County by Phil Hogan. He told the meeting that the service the people of Clonmel are getting is not as good as what it was prior to the amalgamation. The twelve Councillors the town had were seriously reduced and the level of local government grants had been decimated.

"Clonmel and Nenagh are very far away from one another. The large towns in this county have lost out. The whole process should be reviewed and it should be carried out by an outside agency," insisted Cllr. English.

Cllr. John Carroll said in every locality the amalgamation resulted in a non engagement of people because the new system did not work. There was a disconnect with people and he fully supported an impact assessment. The centralisation of the Council caused huge problems for staff and councillors and the public.

Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose said the town of Clonmel was not getting the same service as it was prior to the amalgamation taking place. She believed the constitutionality of the process should be challenged.

She wanted to know how amalgamation was forced on Tipperary when other areas such as Cork were not expected to run with it. "We were treated very differently to other councils, there should be a legal challenge to it." said Cllr. Ambrose.

Cllr. David Doran said amalgamation was a disaster. There were no savings made, services had been depleted and there was a lot of hiding behind other agencies.

"It was a charade, it has not worked, we were sold it on the basis that there would be savings to the taxpayer but I did not see any. Bring back town councils," said Cllr. Doran.

Cllr. David Dunne also branded the amalgamation as a disaster, it was a mistake. Parts of the process worked, in particular the effort to brand Tipperary as one unit which worked for tourism.

Cllr. John Hogan said there needed to be a review as Tipperary County Council was out of touch and some "soul searching " was required on the way in which Town Councils were abolished. "People need to feel a connection with the Council which is not happening in the large urban areas" said Cllr. Hogan.

Cllr. Kieran Bourke said the town of Carrick on Suir had suffered as a result of the amalgamation. Nine public representatives were lost to the town and the matter should be reviewed.

Mr. MacGrath, CEO, said the decision to amalgamate was a government one and he believed a success had been made of it. No doubt there had been challenges in reducing the number of councillors from 113 to forty. He believed the challenges faced by the new authority related to a resources and funding issues.

He said the branding of the county as one unit was a success and the promotion of Tipperary in the market place was gaining ground and needed to be built on.