A construction company that has secured a €2.2m contract to rejuvenate a Carrick-on-Suir local authority housing estate has come under fire from two local councillors for leaving a private housing estate in the town unfinished and in a dangerous condition.
Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke and Fianna Fail Cllr Kieran Bourke have levelled the criticism at Atlantic Developments, the Galway based company Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has secured to carry out the revamp of local authority houses in the Ballylynch housing estate on the Pill Road.
At the other side of the town, residents of 13 occuppied houses in the Gleann an Locha estate on Sir John’s Road, built by Atlantic Developments, live without public lighting and a road that requires a final top layer of tarmac.
At the back of their properties there is a large derelict building site blighted by illegal dumping and featuring a row of 15 completed but vacant houses and the abandoned foundations of other houses.
The vacant houses on the site that is unsecured and easily accessed, have been extensively vandalised with many of their internal fittings robbed. There are open manholes, which residents fear a child will fall into and be seriously injured or killed.
Cllr Kieran Bourke said it “left a sour taste in his mouth” as a councillor that a construction company with a major contract with Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has left a housing estate in such an unfinished and dangerous state in the town.
He said it was not good enough for a company with such a valuable local authority contract to leave an estate in such a condition, particularly given what happened two weeks ago where a two year-old child died in a pool of water on a unfinished housing estate near Athlone.
Cllr Croke expressed surprise that Atlantic Developments was awarded the contract for the Ballylynch rejuvenation scheme given the state it has left Gleann an Locha in.
At Carrick-on-Suir Town Council’s latest meeting, she said the the residents of Gleann an Locha were suffering “a living nightmare” and in a motion she tabled to the meeting, she called on the Town Council to take in charge the part of the estate that was occupied.
She outlined there was an urgent need for street lighting to be connected in front of houses No. 1 to 16 in the estate and for a final layer of tarmac to be applied to finish the roadway outside the homes.
Cllr Croke also called for the developer to be required to adequately secure the derelict site and buildings at the rear of the estate. The site was a health hazard that was being vandalised and there was quite a lot of household rubbish dumped there, she said.
Cllr Croke urged the Council to draw down the bond paid by the developer to the local authority to resolve all these problems if the company didn’t carry out the outstanding works.
“These are people who have mortgages and have saved to buy their homes and are left there. We must have some form of a bond that can be drawn down to even finish the front of the estate for those people. They are beautiful houses but unfortunately they are on a derelict site.”
Cllr Bourke, who seconded the motion, said he totally agreed with Cllr Croke’s comments.
“The developer is now employed by Carrick-on-Suir Town Council. I know he is under a contract but some pressure should be able to be applied to this developer,” he said.
Town Clerk Michael O’Brien’s reply to Cllr Croke’s motion was that the Council was in discussions with Atlantic Developments with a view to having the issues resolved.
When Cllr. Croke said she wasn’t happy with the Town Clerk’s response and Cllr Kieran Bourke criticised it as a “vague” “fob me off” response, Mr O’Brien said the issue was too sensitive to go in to at a public meeting.
He said he would discuss the issue with councillors at the meeting if they wished to go into committee (ie in private without the Press present) or speak privately with him after the meeting.
He pointed out that the Council had achieved significant progress with the developer and was confident the matter would be resolved over the coming months.
Mr O’Brien explained that the Council believed it was more prudent, efficient and quicker to work with the developer to resolve the problems at Gleann an Locha rather than going down the route of issuing enforcement proceedings due to the length of time and cost of mounting such legal action.
However, he said that if the developer failed to take action, the Council would go down the enforcement route without fear or favour.
Cllr Croke requested that the Council keep Gleann an Locha’s residents committee adequately informed of any progress made and that it clean up the illegally dumped rubbish as soon as possible.
Mr O’Brien said he had met with members of this committee and responded to any request from residents to meet with them. He added that the Council would follow up on the dumping problem separately.
Responding to The Nationalist in relation to the councillors criticism of the Town Council awarding the Ballylynch Rejuvenation Scheme contract to Atlantic Developments, Mr O’Brien said the Town Council was obliged to comply with very strict procurement legislation when awarding contracts and they were satisfied that they adhered fully with all the relevant procedures.
The Nationalist made several attempts over the past week to contact Atlantic Developments but the company didn’t respond to our calls.