Council to consider upping motte offer

Local authority chiefs are to discuss the possibility of submitting a fresh offer for Granard town’s historic motte site-but have ruled out getting involved in any potential bidding war.

Local authority chiefs are to discuss the possibility of submitting a fresh offer for Granard town’s historic motte site-but have ruled out getting involved in any potential bidding war.

It comes following a meeting of Granard Town Council last Tuesday evening in which it emerged the council’s previous submission for the site had been bettered by a third party.

Originally mooted as a possible item of interest for the town and local community in September, Cllr PJ Reilly urged the council and its executive to consider returning with a second bid.

“This project (motte purchase) is so important to the town and community,” he said. “No matter what happens, this has to be done. If we (council) let it slip this time, it will be gone certainly for our lifetime.”

Cllr Tommy Stokes and Town Mayor Cllr John Maguire were just as vocal, with the former describing the proposed purchase as a “chance of a lifetime”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there was no mention of figures or what types of money might be needed to secure the 13th century site.

The closest reference that was made came from Cllr Terry McGovern. “I have my doubts it (motte) will go for that kind of money,” said the Independent representative.

As the discussion continued, Town Manager Jack Kilgallon dismissed any notion that the council were intent on going above what they believed to be the site’s present day market value.

“The scope (to bid much higher) has just about run out now,” said Mr Kilgallon.

“The council are bound by procurement laws and we are bound by what the valuation is. It is public money we are spending and we can only spend what it (motte) is worth.”

Stating the council was a public and not private body, Mr Kilgallon said both he and his fellow colleagues at executive level would, however, carefully consider the anxieties of elected members over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Granard Town Council will have to manage with an overall budget of just €42,000 next year as it copes with a 10 per cent cut from Longford County Council.

The €3,600 drop in funding was just one of several monetary adjustments Town Clerk Ann Glancy outlined to councillors at last week’s monthly meeting.

Other areas set for reductions in the new year include legal expenses, rates, stationery and advertising, Town Hall expenses and monies allocated to the Granard Person of the Year Awards.

Two areas to avoid the axe were over €11,000 allocated to members’ expenses and the mayor’s allowance with €9,000 remaining in place for conference fees and travelling expenses alloted to all nine of the local authority’s sitting councillors.

Cllr Maura Kilbride Harkin expressed her disappointment at the impact of the cuts outlined by the Town Clerk, highlighting in particular the cut in funding for Christmas Lights from €1500 to €1,000 in 2013.

“I am disappointed by that the Christmas lights has been cut by €500. It’s very difficult to raise money as it is,” she said.

Appearing anxious to deflect any blame from the council’s executive when drawing up the draft budget for 2013, Cllr Maguire said every effort had been made to balance the books for next year.

“Anne (Glancy, Town Clerk) managed to find the savings.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” he added.