No plans to scrap Town Councils

The future of Longford and Granard town councils are safe, at least for the time being, according to Housing Minister Willie Penrose.

The future of Longford and Granard town councils are safe, at least for the time being, according to Housing Minister Willie Penrose.

Mr Penrose made the confirmation following a meeting with Granard Town Councillors last Monday evening.

He said there were no plans at present to sanction the axing of some the country’s smaller urban authorities, despite changes outlined in the controversial McCarthy report of two years ago.

“There is nothing in the programme for government,” he told the Leader last Monday evening.

The Ballyncargy deputy did however concede local government was in need of reform from the grassroots level up.

Mr Penrose hinted that some town councils, including the likes of Granard, could be in line for significant expansion.

“There has to be change in relation to town councils. The town level of government is in need of reform. Some of them that are there might need a bit of enlargement to give them a criticial mass.

Addressing the present difficulties faced by Granard, Mr Penrose said he was heartened to learn of the many connections the north Longford local authority still maintained with organisations headed by the likes of its tidy towns, chamber of commerce and other interest groups.

Standing alongside fellow government TD and Fine Gael deputy, Nicky McFadden who also attended the meeting, Mr Penrose said he would pass on the views expressed by Granard’s local area representatives with Environment Minister Phil Hogan over the coming days.

“We are going to bring this back to Minister Hogan and indicate to him that town councils have a role and that that role was pointed out in very clear and expansive terms by the members of the town council here tonight,” he added.

Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy was just as wholesome in his praise of the work presently being undertaken by each of Granard’s nine town councillors.

Speaking inside the chamber, Mr Troy said town councils like Granard offered numerous benefits to local communities.

“When you look at the number of town councils in relation to other countries such as France, Austria and Sweden we (Ireland) are very much at the lower end of the scale. I hear what you (councillors) are saying and the little cost you have on the exchequer. I think at a time when we are trying to encourage more people into politics, a town council is a way one can put their foot in the water,” he explained.