Updated: 08/03/18 : 05:33:19
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Real reform must empower town councils with real planning powers - Filan

‘’Minister John Paul Phelan must give his new town councils real powers in planning or they run the risk of turning into sham councils,’’ Finbarr  Filan, the Renua Ireland candidate in Sligo has warned.

Mr Filan said, ‘’I welcome the Ministers decision to restore the old town council with twenty-eight new town districts.
 
"But, the Ministers inability to go the whole way by providing his new town district councils with full planning powers sets much of his good work at naught.
 
"It is utterly illogical to provide these new town councils with funding for roads and the capacity to plan for town development but to refuse full planning powers is like sending a man off to build a house without any bricks.

"The Minister would be wise to slip the snares set by custom house bureaucrats and go the whole way.

"That said I welcome his progressive stance on local government and his wise decision to reverse the utterly regressive abolition by Phil Hogan to abolish town councils.There is no better example of the economics of penny wise pound foolish.

"I believe government is always more efficient if it is closely monitored by those closest to it; local citizens.

'Real independence'

Mr Filan continued, "However, that the much-needed return of these democratic bodies will not be worth a penny candle unless accompanied by real powers.

"The new councils need real independence; not some custom house led variant of Home Rule.

"If these new councils are merely given powers more appropriate to a talking shop this will only serve to bring local government into further disrepute.

"Under the minister’s current proposals local town districts will not have the power to adjudicate on the frontage of the local town shop. This is a recipe for futility.

"In this regard the Minister and government must also clarify the consequences of the new designated council status in Sligo.  Sligo has been identified as a regional growth centre in Ireland 2040, the national planning framework for the next 20 years.

Mr Filan concluded, "In order for Sligo to reach its full potential over the next 20 years it is critical that the new Sligo District council includes not only the old borough of Sligo town but also Strandhill, Ballisodare, Rossesspoint, Drumcliff and Collooney in order to provide the critical mass of population to move Sligo towards the top of the list in terms of population size."