Problem of unfinished estates ‘beyond’ the council

This article is from page 8 of the 2011-12-27 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 8 JPG

A GOVERNMENT grant would be required to complete unfinished housing estates as the problem is beyond the “capability” of Clare County Council, a meeting has heard.

The issue of the council’s involvement in unfinished estates was raised at last week’s budget meeting.

Councillor Johnny Flynn (FG) said that while the council is making a major contribution to the community and enterprise sector, there is concern over the work required to complete a number of housing estates in the county.

County Manager Tom Coughlan said the council has previously provided € 55,000 to unfinished estates but the amount was a “drop in the ocean compared to what’s needed”.

He told the meeting that an increase in commercial rates would have allowed the council to set money aside for estates.

However, Mr Coughlan said that the problem is “beyond the capability” of the local authority.

He said the council could appeal to the government to provide a one-off grant to carry out works.

In her report, Cllr Patricia McCarthy (Ind) stated that housing maintenance “is a critical element of the housing programme both in terms of improving safety and security within the home and also within the housing estate”.

Cllr McCarthy, who chairs of the council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), continued, “During the year, 1,420 maintenance calls were logged in respect of 772 properties.

The budget for 2012 at € 891k including loan charges will see a continuation of our maintenance programme with a primary focus on essential health and safety repairs.

“Improvement works to bring the council’s housing stock in line with current rented standards were carried out on 86 units at a cost of € 153k in 2011. Should funding be provided by the Department in 2012 this programme will be continued”.

Cllr McCarthy explained that improvements were carried out on 51 vacant units through energy efficiency upgrades. She said that funding for the scheme is obtained through the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Cllr McCarthy continued, “This funding is dependent on the availability of a local contribution from internal capital receipts, which are diminishing on an annual basis. The grant rate is related to the energy improvement achieved but generally is 80% of the approved cost. It is ex- pected that the Department funding under this heading will be significantly reduced in 2012 and this will restrict the number of units that can be improved”.

Cllr McCarthy stated that is expected that in excess of 700 housing grant applications will be received by the end of the year.

She continued. “An estimated total of 540 grants will be approved as compared with 472 in 2010. Estimated expenditure for the year is € 3.375m, of which 80% is recoupable from the Department. It is anticipated that due to budgetary constraints a reduced level of activity will occur in 2012”.

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