the long-awaited plans for Newbridge Town Council to sit in Chamber in the Town Hall have now been dashed due to the abolishment of the council by 2014.
There was mixed reactions among the town councillors in Newbridge to the news. However most agreed that the renovations of the Town Hall must still go-a-head for the sake of the community.
“I’m disappointed,” said Cllr Pat Black. “But I fully understand to justify expenditure with the very limited power that we have especially in the present economic difficulty. It is hard to justify the existence of a lobby group. It is unfortunate timing for the Town Hall but I hope it can continue to be developed for community use. You can’t leave a building delapidated in the town. It could also be used for the area committee meetings.”
Cllr Damian Molyneaux said the scrapping of the town council would have a direct impact on local democracy..
“It is not good for local democracy,” he said. “Some of our predecessors are to blame.”Cllr Paddy Kennedy said the move was inevitable.
“It had to change,” he said. “I’m not happy that the Town Councillors are losing their jobs but we will have 15 more councillors at Kildare County Council. I find it frustrating on Newbridge Town Council with limited powers. A lot of it is still open ended.”
Cllr Micheal ‘Spike’ Nolan gave it a cautious welcome.
“It is very early days,” he said. “I have a cautious welcome to it but there are lots of pros and cons. It will be streamlined to make it more effective but there will be less representation on it.”
In terms of the Town Hall, Cllr Nolan said that the contracts are signed for the refurbishment to go ahead. “The municipal meetings that we are going to have can be held there,” he said. Meanwhile Cllr Fiona O’Loughlin said there was a ‘lack of clarity’ with the reform at the moment.
“The biggest concern I had with the town council was that we don’t have a lot of powers and we don’t have much of a budget,” she said. “But one area we were able to make a difference was in terms of community grants so we have to fight for a budget as a municipality. It is ironic that Newbridge Town Council will soon have a home but no one to fill it.”
There are nine members on Newbridge Town Council and a representational payment in the sum of €4,181 per annum is paid to the six members who are not members of Kildare County Council. An annual expenses allowance in the sum of €2,036 is available for all nine members.