Clarification on the future of the historic Town Hall in Clonmel, and an update on what impact the amalgamation of North and South Tipperary councils in 2014 will have on its place in the town, were sought at this monthâ€™s meeting of Clonmel Borough Council.
Independent Cllr. Darren Ryan called for the update and for information on what, if any, plans were in place for the Town Hall, saying he had serious reservations about the future of the building.
According to Cllr Ryan, public representatives at county level are fully briefed on the planned local government reform, whereas Clonmel Borough councillors have not heard anything, apart from plans for its abolition.
â€œVery little time has been given to the Borough Council and Joe Public is asking questions and we should be able to answer them,â€ he said.
â€œWe have received no update, nothing. At County Council level we know where departments are going, we know what directors are going north and who is staying south.
I have very serious reservations about the future of this building and I want to propose that someone from management come here to our June meeting and let us know what is going on,â€ he said.
Mayor of Clonmel Cllr Billy Shoer, who along with a number of councillors has held meetings with the mayors and councillors of the four other Borough Councils in the country, in the hope of saving them from the axe, said that they had received no correspondence since from either the Taoiseach or Tanaiste in relation to their concerns and calls for Borough Councils to be retained.
Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose said it is very important that people know what is happening to their â€œpreciousâ€ Town Hall while Cllr. Richie Molloy said the current situation was a â€œslap in the faceâ€ for people.
â€œIsnâ€™t is a fright that at this late stage nobody seems to know whatâ€™s going on? Even the staff here are wondering will they be going north or staying put. If our Deputies wonâ€™t speak up then we, as a town, are finished and it is a slap in the face for the people of Clonmel,â€ he said.
Town Clerk Ger Walsh told members that the co-ordinator of the merger team will meet with them for a workshop in the near future, but pointed out that no decision had been made regarding the Town Hall yet.
Consideration is currently being given to how the town and borough councils can merge into the county council structure and a National Advisory Group was established by Minister Phil Hogan to assist with this. The report of the Local Electoral Boundary Committee, which will decide the number and extent of electoral areas or districts is expected later this month, or in early June.
â€œWe are working in a vacuum at present,â€ said Mr. Walsh. â€œUntil municipl districts are decided we cannot do anything.â€
But Cllr. Ryan said he found it hard to accept that no decisions had been made in relation to the Town Hallâ€™s future.
â€œI find it hard to acccept that if decisions have already been made to allocate certain directors to certain locations, surely certain considertion has been given to premises that are owned by the council.
There has to be a plan somewhere, we are just not being told what it is,â€ he said.
â€œThe most effective form of public representation is being depleted here and we need answers. I find it hard to accept that no discussion has been made about this building,â€ he said.
In response to this, Town Manager Sinead Carr said that there was â€œno grand planâ€ because no decsions had been made regarding the town and borough councils.
She said that reason so much is known about the amalgamation at county level is because this process has been ongoing for the past two years, specifically relating to the county councils.
â€œIt is very difficult to come up with a structure until we know the boundaries, municipal districts and municipal functions. If anyone thinks I have some plan, I donâ€™t,â€ she said.â€¨She said she would be happy to facilitate a meeting between councillors and the merger co-ordinator.