Posted March 15th, 2013
Figures give a worrying insight into lack of controls in place in local authorities under Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow and member of the Public Accounts Committee, Simon Haris, has today (Friday) called on local authorities to immediately outline why there is almost €750 million owed in development levies to councils across the country. Deputy Harris obtained the figures by way of a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD.
“The extremely large amount of money owed to local authorities by developers will come as a shock to taxpayers across this country. We now need answers from our local authorities about why such a large sum of money is outstanding, how much of this money they realistically expect to be in a position to recoup, and what processes are in place to ensure that developers pay the bills owed to the Irish taxpayer.
“Development levies are meant to be paid upfront before any development commences. If councils came to arrangements with developers to pay levies on a phased basis then they clearly had a duty to ensure that these levies were paid. I am alarmed to see that more than €300 million of outstanding levies have now been classified as ‘long-term’. This clearly shows that these levies were due to be paid some time ago and were never recouped by the council. Today’s figures give a worrying insight into the lack of structures and controls in place in local authorities under the Fianna Fáil-led Government.
“Many citizens will be extremely frustrated to see what appears to be the lax approach by councils to developers and how this contrasts with councils proactively seeking payment of business rates from small local businesses.
“To be quite frank, these figures raise questions and suspicions on the relationships that existed in Celtic Tiger Ireland. The close relationship at the time between developers and the Fianna Fáil-led Government is well known.
“This Government has been tasked with rebuilding the country; transitioning it to a new enterprise-based economy and away from an unsustainable economy built on construction and debt. Local Government must operate to the very highest standards. The Minister for the Environment is committed to building a stronger, more cohesive local government structure. We have to ensure that our councils have the financial controls in place to deliver local services for citizens across the country.
“We need our councils to urgently provide us with more information on these figures so that we can ascertain how much money the taxpayer can expect to recoup and how much money was squandered by councils’ inaction.”
Current Development Levy Debtors - Long Term Development Levy Debtors
Carlow County Council 1,194,269.00 11,431,053.00
Cavan County Council 2,130,463.69 3,485,133.00
Clare County Council 6,123,354.11 0
Cork Council 8,102,098.00 44,617,612.00
Donegal County Council 1,766,400.17 3,622,131.00
Fingal County Council 129,602,377.85 2,214,225.55
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown 39,158,302.00 51,693,806.00
Galway County Council 2,582,669.41 12,500,000.00
Kerry County Council 1,214,667.00 551,358.00
Kildare County Council 6,517,214.61 27,199,458.45
Kilkenny County Council 4,562,682.07 0
Laois County Council 1,572,495.82 3,729,297.37
Leitrim County Council 1,721,345.96 3,085,213.53
Limerick County Council 38,511,229.11 0
Longford County Council 1,637,448.42 2,215,000.00
Louth County Council 3,362,436.53 5,443,414.38
Mayo County Council 10,332,760.00 1,045,824.00
Meath County Council 13,336,842.03 8,278,433.00
Monaghan County Council 959,163.00 3,660,230.00
North Tipperary County Council 1,731,918.31 616,064.72
Offaly County Council 3,139,423.00 85,892.00
Roscommon County Council 14,243,971.05 769,859.00
Sligo County Council 1,405,488.50 331,335.00
South Dublin County Council 32,102,856.47 0
South Tipperary County Council 1,917,858.00 1,779,983.00
Waterford County Council 2,236,748.00 0
Westmeath County Council 2,254,668.36 111,893.00
Wexford County Council 12,540,881.00 12,691,640.00
Wicklow County Council 4,441,806.67 0
Cork City Council 3,608,445.00 7,138,373.00
Dublin City Council 33,522,893.00 72,921,411.00
Galway City Council 4,770,532.79 6,351,689.99
Limerick City Council 1,601,537.89 724,104.11
Waterford City Council 924,236.10 0
Clonmel Borough Council 433,968.53 1,223,941.63
Drogheda Borough Council 4,446,077.00 290,290.00
Kilkenny Borough Council 2,692,546.18 0
Sligo Borough Council 1,424,462.77 258,885.68
Wexford Borough Council 2,843,585.00 0
Arklow Town Council 2,202,522.40 0
Athlone Town Council 4,691,573.42 1,000,000.00
Athy Town Council 57,398.63 3,679,339.22
Ballina Town Council 511,035.22 0
Ballinasloe Town Council 744,169.79 1,131,250.81
Birr Town Council 950,892.00 0
Bray Town Council 682,843.00 0
Buncrana Town Council 178,661.15 0
Bundoran Town Council 155,757.08 0
Carlow Town Council 1,556,546.85 3,003,563.23
Carrick on Suir Town Council 172,336.96 751,677.36
Carrickmacross Town Council 19,700.01 60,135.32
Cashel Town Council 91,050.90 104,323.32
Castlebar Town Council 906,391.38 0
Castleblayney Town Council 366,865.00 0
Cavan Town Council 150,000.00 640,325.46
Clonakilty Town Council 728,493.00 0
Clones Town Council 30,955.00 0
Cobh Town Council 164,756.00 0
Dundalk Town Council 1,542,054.25 9,151,711.96
Dungarvan Town Council 244,327.07 0
Ennis Town Council 1,067,342.92 0
Enniscorthy Town Council 160,805.00 276,412.00
Fermoy Town Council 114,426.00 0
Kells Town Council 118,395.83 0
Killarney Town Council 346,138.46 0
Kilrush Town Council 8,829.84 0
Kinsale Town Council 291,157.00 0
Letterkenny Town Council 833,471.24 0
Listowel Town Council 124,014.95 0
Longford Town Council 2,311,823.49 1,054,000.00
Macroom Town Council 578,513.00 0
Mallow Town Council 668,802.00 0
Midleton Town Council 256,358.00 0
Monaghan Town Council 1,160,101.90 71,610.00
Naas Town Council 1,245,744.51 572,926.98
Navan Town Council 503,100.22 0
Nenagh Town Council 778,951.00 0
New Ross Town Council 538,059.00 235,180.00
Skibbereen Town Council 207,114.00 0
Templemore Town Council 0 0
Thurles Town Council 1,317,327.99 618,073.00
Tipperary Town Council 490,576.81 5,849.60
Tralee Town Council 707,133.00 0
Trim Town Council 330,063.44 0
Tullamore Town Council 89,394.00 59,665.20
Westport Town Council 611,780.93 0
Wicklow Town Council 733,069.46 0
Youghal Town Council 391,265.00 0
Total 438,804,210.50 312,483,594.87
Local authority, agencies & the public must listen to rescue organisations on dangers of Sally Gap – Harris
Posted February 28th, 2013
“Snow tourists” cannot put safety and well-being of Wicklow rescue organisations at risk. Common-sense needs to prevail
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has commended the great work of volunteers from both the Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team and the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team in all their efforts in the Sally Gap area in recent weeks.
Last weekend alone more than 100 people were rescued from the Sally Gap during bad snow and ice weather conditions. 20 cars were abandoned in the area also due to the bad weather.
Speaking about this issue, Deputy Harris said, “I really want to urge people in the strongest possible terms to be aware of the dangers of this area in bad weather. I am extremely concerned about the so-called ‘snow tourists” who try to navigate through the area in dangerous weather. These people are quite simply putting their own safety at risk and are also putting the safety and well-being of volunteers who are then required to rescue them at real risk.”
“We are very fortunate to have such dedicated volunteer organisations engaging in rescue missions in our community. This cannot be taken for granted though. We welcome and need tourists in County Wicklow but ‘snow tourists’ going up the Sally Gap is posing dangers. People need to use common sense and be respectful towards the safety of those who will be required to rescue them if they ignore weather advice and signage and proceed to drive the area,” stated Deputy Harris.
“I would also urge the local authority to heed the requests of these rescue groups about what needs to be done to help improve safety, signage, etc in the locality,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted November 9th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has today (9/11/2012) welcomed the announcement from the Department of the Environment that €195,727 in funding has been approved under the Rural Development Programme for the expansion of walkways, development of community playground and picnic area in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.
‘The provision of funding for the community playground and picnic area will allow for a family friendly venue that will help to attract tourists to the area which would provide a welcome boost for local businesses.
‘I am pleased that this funding has been provided for Tinahely as they will allow for the development of much needed public resources.
‘I very much welcome these developments and look forward to their completion. I believe that these developments will enhance the overall tourist offering of the area.’
Posted July 10th, 2012
Work on Arklow Water Supply Scheme and watermains replacements in Arklow, Aughrim, Avoca and Tinahely gets the go ahead.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday) of two significant investments in Wicklow water improvements.
Deputy Harris said, “These works represent a major step forward in the implementation of the Water Conservation Rehabilitation Strategy for Wicklow. Not only will water leakage be greatly reduced as a result, but there will be significant savings in repair costs also. Residents of Arklow and the surrounding areas will be assured of a reliable and high quality drinking water supply for many years to come as a result.”
“Under the Department of Environment’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, €4.9 million is to be made available to start the implementation of the Wicklow Water Conservation rehabilitation strategy – this will see 26 kilometres of mains replaced in Arklow, Aughrim, Avoca and Tinahely. These areas have been identified as ‘hotspots’ for burst watermains.”
“The Minister has also approved a separate €4.9m tender provided to Wicklow County Council for the fourth contract relating to the Arklow Water Supply Scheme. This phase of works comprises of the construction of a new Water Treatment Plant at Ballyduff, the equipping and commissioning of the production wells and the upgrading of the exisiting abstraction facility at the Goldmines River.”
Posted June 22nd, 2012
East-Carlow to remain part of the Wicklow constituency for the next elections
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed confirmation from the Boundary Commission that Wicklow will remain as a five-seat constituency, encompassing areas of East-Carlow including Rathvilly, Hacketstown and Tiknock.
Deputy Harris said, “While many local residents may have wished to see East Carlow returned to the Carlow-Kilkenny Constituency, the Boundary Commission found it was not possible to do so without creating a significant discrepancy in terms of their representation in the Dáil.”
“I am always happy to represent my constituents from all over the constituency, and to meet with any groups or individuals in East Carlow who would like to do so.”
Posted June 14th, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government were at St Patrick’s National School, Greystones yesterday (Wednesday) to meet with the Greystones Green Schools Committee and commend their considerable achievements today, including having obtained four green flags to date.
Deputy Harris said, “It was a pleasure to meet with the Green Schools Committee, and wonderful to be joined by the Minister for the Environment, who could see first-hand the great work being done by the school. Students, staff and parents are leading the way in showing how we can embrace a greener lifestyle.”
“I was delighted to attend, and will no doubt be returning for the award of a fifth green flag soon. Education is about more than books, and I am delighted that students in Greystones will be leaving school with a much greater appreciation of environmental issues.”
Posted April 13th, 2012
Funding will help tackle litter and graffiti at beaches, scenic areas across Wicklow and important roads throughout the county.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed funding totalling €24,000 for Wicklow under the Tourist Season Anti-Litter Grant. The funding has been announced by the Minister for Environment, Phil Hogan.
Deputy Harris said, “This funding will help local communities to tackle the problem of litter across Wicklow through awareness raising, enforcement and the maintenance of tourist areas. Local authorities will be able to use this money to select projects that promote greater public awareness and education about litter and graffiti. They will also be able to support voluntary initiatives run by community groups, which play such a vital role in the upkeep of our towns and villages.
A further €750,000 is being made available nationally under the new Litter Enforcement Scheme, to help crack down on littering and illegal dumping. This money can be used by local authorities to deploy mobile CCTV cameras and other measures to identify those responsible for these activities.
We all have a role to play in the upkeep of our own communities. Local authorities, community and voluntary groups all do excellent work to maintain the appearance of streets, roads and scenic areas; and this new funding will help support this important work.
Posted February 22nd, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has voiced concerns about the rapidly increasing problem of dumping along the N11/M11 route. Deputy Harris said, “At a time when there is a concerted push to promote tourism, we need to be conscious of presenting our county, and our country, in the best possible light to visitors. However, the current level of littering and illegal dumping along main roads in Wicklow is unprecedented.”
“I have written to the National Roads Authority highlighting this issue, and I hope swift action will be taken to restore the roadside verges to good condition. I would encourage anyone who witnesses illegal dumping to report it through the lo-call hotline 1850 365 121, so Local Authorities, the Environmental Protection Agency and an Garda Síochána can take the appropriate action.”
Posted February 7th, 2012
Wicklow TD continues campaign for works to protect Wicklow water supply.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has received confirmation from Dublin City Council the Vartry Tunnel Replacement work is a “priority scheme” for the Council. Deputy Harris said, “Dublin City Council have informed me funding and staffing are now in place for the much-needed remedial works on the tunnel. Funding will be provided by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and a Senior Executive Engineer has been assigned full-time to the scheme.”
“Much of the water supply for North Wicklow is reliant on the Vartry tunnel, which dates back to the 1860s and runs through the Wicklow Mountains. The tunnel is in urgent need of repairs, it is simply not appropriate that the collapse of an old and unstable tunnel would jeopardise the water supply to thousands of houses in North Wicklow and South Dublin.”
“I raised this matter in the Dáil a number of months ago and am glad to see the Minister for the Environment has recognised the gravity of this situation and allocated funding accordingly. Dublin City Council is currently completing a plan for the necessary statutory, environmental and legal processes and expects to have agreed a way forward with all the relevant agencies, including Wicklow County Council, before the summer.”
“I will be continuing to monitor this issue over the coming months, and will endeavour to keep local residents informed of the progress being made.”
Posted December 1st, 2011
Minister for the Environment has ring-fenced funding and staff for work on Vartry tunnel – Harris calls on Dublin City Council to act swiftly.
Speaking in the Dáil, Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, raised the need for remedial works on the Vartry tunnel with the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan TD. Minister Hogan confirmed his Department had allocated funding for the works, and additional staff was in place to progress the scheme.
Speaking after the debate, Deputy Harris said, “I am deeply concerned by reports the Vartry water tunnel, which dates back to the 1860s, is now unstable. Much of the water supply for North Wicklow is reliant on the tunnel, which runs through the Wicklow Mountains, and if required, remedial works could take some months to complete.”
“I welcome the Minister’s recognition of the gravity of this situation, and the funding allocation made by his department in respect of this. It is now up to Dublin City Council to get their acts together urgently and to submit the necessary plans to the department so that this vital work can be commenced.”
“I will be writing to both the Dublin City Manager and the Wicklow County Manager on this matter, as will my colleague, Minister Hogan.”