Councillors say cuts to directors will hit services

The directors of Longford Co Council will just be “rubber-stamping” decisions made by lower ranked staff after a realignment of directorates in the council, according to Cllr Paul Connell.

The directors of Longford Co Council will just be “rubber-stamping” decisions made by lower ranked staff after a realignment of directorates in the council, according to Cllr Paul Connell.

At last week’s Co Council meeting, Co Manager Tim Caffrey revealed the number of directors operating in the council will be reduced by one from June 1, with the extra workload divided between the remaining three directors.

Cllr Paul Connell told the Chamber he did not see how the Council could operate properly with three. “All I can see is that other staff way down the line will be making the decisions and the director will be just rubber-stamping them. As a member of this Council I am not happy with that.”

The existing head of finance, Barry Lynch will now take over the responsibility of Housing and Building, including control over unfinished housing estates under the Council’s control. Cllr Martin Mulleady was visibly shocked that the responsibility of housing was being put on top of the finance remit.

“I’m amazed we haven’t got an opportunity to put another director in place. In particular, I’m very concerned the head of finance is being put in charge of these estates. It’s an awful extra workload to put on him especially as the finances in the county and the country aren’t in a good state,” the FF councillor said.

Frank Sheridan will now be responsible for Economic & Community Development, Corporate, Cultural and Recreational Services, Human Resources, Planning and Building Control and Longford Town Council.

Jack Kilgallen is over Infrastructure and Environmental Services, Emergency Services and Granard Town Council.

While the councillors were unanimous in their opposition to the changes, Co Manager Tim Caffrey responded that the Council was not losing a member of staff but “revising delegations.”

Mr Caffrey did confirm he would be delegating tasks to senior planners and engineers at a lower grade but stressed those individuals would be making decisions in a “management capacity.”

Most worryingly for the operation of the Council, Mr Caffrey revealed that under the Employment Framework Directive that will set out the number of directors according to what band each county falls within, Longford could be earmarked for just two directors.

A survey of neighbouring counties reveals that Roscommon also have three directors in place after a fourth retired last April. Cavan have four in place. Leitrim Co Co, on the other hand, has not been forced to realign any positions and five directors remain in place.

“Unfortunately in the last few years we have lost a number of very senior staff. We’ve been unlucky with retirements because of the age profile of our staff and the matter of timing is very unfortunate. Retirements, sick leave, normal leave; they’re not being replaced,” Mr Caffrey added.

“This is government policy, and the former government’s policy but I hope things revert back somewhat in the future,” Mr Caffrey added.