Council look to tackle housing woes

Council look to tackle housing woes
A total of 15 local authority houses across the county currently lying vacant and in a state of disrepair, are to be brought back into use.

A total of 15 local authority houses across the county currently lying vacant and in a state of disrepair, are to be brought back into use.

Longford County Council announced last week it had been handed down €150,000 to carry out repairs on a number of houses in the Springlawn and Cluain Ard estates in Longford town.

It brings to over €300,000 the amount housing officials have received this year to refurbish dwellings that have fallen into decline while unoccupied.

More than 80 per cent of that funding (€262,250) has been set aside to renovate 10 houses in Springlawn with the remaining money going towards upgrading works in four other county council owned units.

These include €25,000 for improvements on a house in Ballymahon, €13,000 for two units in Cluian Ard and €6,500 each on dwellings in Ballinalee and Newtownforbes respectively.

Head of Finance, Barry Lynch said the funding was especially timely after the council had previously expressed its dissatisfaction with earlier capital funding allocations.

“We made an application for funding and Ms (Jan) O’Sullivan awarded a figure of €150,000,” he said of the newly appointed Education Minister.

Mr Lynch said the council’s overall figure was taken from a central grants scheme totalling €15m.

“We did express our disappointment at the first tranche of funding, but now we have gotten the other half,” he said.

Independent Cllr Mae Sexton - though broadly supportive of the announcement - asked for all future ministerial decisions to be relayed to members without delay.

“It’s important that as soon as decisions are announced, it is given to us by email to clear up any confusion,” she said.

Confirmation of Longford’s grant approval came just as Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced details of the Government’s much anticipated cabinet reshuffle.

Former Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan was promoted to the Education portfolio with her Labour colleague Alan Kelly taking over from new European Commissioner Phil Hogan in the Department of Environment.

No official announcement has yet been made as to who will take over from the Limerick TD.

Whoever does looks set to face an arduous task in addressing rising housing waiting lists.

Recent figures from the Local Government Management Agency show that, on average, 3% of local authority houses were empty at any given time in 2012 and 75 per cent were not fit to re-let.

On average, it took four and a half months to carry out repairs and a further five weeks before the properties were re-let.

It’s hoped close to 950 of these dwellings nationwide will now be brought back into use following last week’s €15m announcement.