Councillors to seek legal advice over bollard stumbling block

Political differences over the existence of a bollard in one of Longford town’s quietest lane-ways looks set to rumble on following a meeting of Longford Town Council last week.

Political differences over the existence of a bollard in one of Longford town’s quietest lane-ways looks set to rumble on following a meeting of Longford Town Council last week.

Councillors agreed to seek legal advice after Town Clerk Dan Rooney said staff had examined whether the bollard should be removed as a result of concerns from local residents and business owners.

Addressing last Wednesday evening’s meeting, Mr Rooney said the council’s chief engineer, Brian McNeela was of the view the bollard should remain in place.

“Technically, the town engineer can see no reason to remove it unless we decide to do it here,” said Mr Rooney.

The move to now engage legal experts represents a fresh twist in a saga which first started over two and a half years ago.

Then, in 2010, the council inserted the narrow steel support beside local store Fuchsia Design as a means of improving health and safety.

In February, this newspaper told of how council chiefs admitted that it had in fact failed to enter into negotiations with locals when the bollard was first constructed.

Following a complaint made to the Office of the Ombudsman, a consultative debate was held. Despite this, some councillors led by Cllr Denis Hughes and Michael Connellan said locals including shop owners were still very much aggrieved by the whole controversy.

The debate also led to a difference of opinion between Mr Rooney and Cllr Connellan. As the Longford town solicitor raised doubts about the tactics employed by the council from the outset, Mr Rooney insisted: “We did go through the proper process,” a statement which prompted Cllr Connellan to respond: “Yes, but that was only retrospectively. We (council) can’t do that.”

A clutch of other councillors took a similar view. Cllr Mae Sexton said the fallout “sat uneasy” with her while Mayor Cllr Peggy Nolan revealed certain homeowners living nearby were inconvenienced by the bollard’s continued presence.

“There is an issue there where someone has a back injury and the lifting of that bollard is causing untold problems,” she said. “Maybe a lighter bollard could be put in.”

Further discussion on the practicalities behind the Breaden’s Lane affair is expected to be held at next month’s meeting of the local authority.