Council’s outdoor staff face further cuts

KILDARE County Council’s outdoor staff is facing further cuts after questions were raised about the use of private contractors to fill potholes.

KILDARE County Council’s outdoor staff is facing further cuts after questions were raised about the use of private contractors to fill potholes.

It is thought that following a review, a recommendation may be made to cut from three to two the number of outdoor gangs, as they are known.

At KCC’s Celbridge area committee meeting last Friday, July 20, Cllr. John McGinley asked why “it is necessary to hire contractors to fill potholes in Maynooth?”

In a reply officials said: “As the members are probably aware, a systemic review of all aspects of the roads engineering areas/roads maintenance is currently being undertaken to ensure that the Council can make optimum use of the decreasing resources available to it.

“There is a particular issue in the Maynooth area which management in the roads department are attempting to address at the moment.

“As this is a human resources/industrial relations issue it is not possible to expand on the matter in the context of the area committee meeting, however, a briefing can be provided to the members in camera to ensure that they are kept informed of all pertinent issues.”

Cllr. McGinley told the meeting the issue had been going on since the retirement last February of an overseer. “We were told there would be no serious adverse repercussions but it seems that there is little work which can be done,” he added.

Cllr. McGinley said contractors were “exceptionally costly” and said they should have been told of the problem last January. “It is not the intention of the Government that people would be lying idle.

“It is astonishing it can go on for seven to eight months.” The committee is to be advised, in camera, before the full meeting of the Council next Monday, 30 January.

The Leader understands that the hiring of contractors in such circumstances as stated by Cllr. McGinley is a breach of the Croke Park agreement.

Ray O’Reilly, a spokespeson for SIPTU, which represents some of the affected local authority staff, said discussions were ongoing and they were aware a review was imminent.

Kildare County Council’s 2011 Audit Committee reported a 17% reduction in overall staff since 2008 and planning staff numbers had fallen by 25%.

Nationally, local authorities have experienced a 15% cut in staff numbers since 2008, compared to 6.7% for the public services as a whole. It is also thought that within local authorities outdoor numbers have been cut by more than average.

At the moment, those retiring are not replaced.

- Henry Bauress