Emergency works due to start last month on unfinished building sites on a Carrick-on-Suir housing estate to make them safe will now not commence for up to two more weeks, a Carrick-on-Suir Town Council meeting was informed this week.
Anger and frustration was voiced by several councillors at the meeting over the delay in beginning the emergency works on the building sites at Mountain View in Ballylynch.
Work on the sites was abandoned in April when Atlantic Developments, the original contractor for the €2m refurbishment of the Mountain View area of the estate, went into receivership.
Three months of work remains to be completed on the project and residents have highlighted significant health and safety issues with the unfinished sites. Some council owned homes have been left with half completed halls and front porches. Others are waiting for fascia and soffits to be installed and for their front gardens to be finished. There are also roadways, footpaths and several new homes left unfinished.
Town Clerk Michael O’Brien said the fault for the delay lay at his feet for telling the Council that the emergency works would begin in mid to late June. That timeline was too “ambitious” and “over optimistic”, he told councillors. Mr O’Brien rejected Cllrs Sylvia Cooney and Cllr Sarah Dunne’s criticism of the bondsman for the original contractor, whom they blamed for holding up the emergency works.
He said the bondsman had nominated a contractor to carry out the emergency works and the Council had received a verbal assurance that the builder had a bond in place.
Mr O’Brien explained to councillors that the emergency works would commence once the bond for the new contractor was confirmed in writing and that was to happen in 10 to 14 days.
He insisted that nobody had been dragging their heels and explained that this was a complex process. “Everyone has acted in good faith and I think apportioning blame isn’t correct,” he said.
Mr O’Brien acknowledged the co-operation and patience of the residents of Ballylynch. “I understand their frustration and I appreciate I said we would try to get it down in mid to late June. All I can say is that we are working tirelessly to get it done. We are in touch with the bondsman once a day.”
Meanwhile, he reported that the tendering process for the main contract to complete the Mountain View regeneration scheme was on schedule. Nine expressions of interest in the contract had been received in the pre-tendering stage.
An angry Cllr Richie O’Neill, who is a resident of Mountain View in Ballylynch, said he and the other residents of the estate were very disappointed and fed up with the delay in starting the emergency works and demanded a guarantee that the works would commence in two weeks.
“At the last monthly meeting we were told the work should start in a week or two,” he complained. “We have flood waters all over the place in Ballylynch at the moment. I feel strongly for the people living in those houses with the way the rain has been coming down.
“They have no shoots on their homes, nothing. There is scaffolding and stuff thrown every where up there. It’s shameful we have to listen to this every time,” he added.
Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan said she was extremely disappointed to hear it could be another 10 to 14 days before work started and echoed Cllr O’Neill’s demand for re-assurance about the start date. She questioned the Town Clerk on the reasons for the delay and demanded to know if the bondsman was “dragging his heels”.
Cllr Kieran Bourke said he sympathised with the people of Ballylynch but also with the Town Council officials as the Minister for Finance ignored the letter sent by the Council requesting the tendering process in relation to the emergency works to be changed to enable the work to get underway more quickly.
“I can understand the rules and regulations being left in place for the rest of the contract but certainly not for the emergency works. I ask the manager is there any way we can fast track this to begin a little faster than 10 to 14 days?”.
Mr O’Brien responded that the Council was obliged to give the builder a certain amount of time to secure a bond.
“Compared to other local authorities where this has happened, we are moving quickly,” he pointed out. “We made ourselves hostages to fortune by saying mid to late June. I wouldn’t say I am happy with the progress but I am satisfied. Everyone has acted in good faith,” he added.