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  1. #51
    GJG GJG is offline
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    First up Frank, thanks for actually taking the time to be specific. But how are existing local authorities doing with the areas of responsibility you think they should have?



    • Agree the development plan and zone areas (this should be in keeping with the regional and national plans). Already in their remit (there are 90 local authorities responsible for planning in Ireland. Their performance is catastrophic, and they bear much responsibility for our current economic crisis - zoning in Kerry to house more than the entire population of Munster.
    • Agree if planning should be allowed for projects not meeting the original development plan. Already in their remit. Abysmal failure. Section Four, anyone?
    • Manage and maintain local parks, playgrounds and public areas.Already in their remit. Abysmal failure. Fewer playgrounds than golf courses
    • Determine the need for and source funding for new local roads. I don't know if they have authority for new roads; their maintenance of existing ones varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Prioritise and Manage maintenance on local roads and footpaths. Already in their remit. Performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Provide Street Cleaning and Empty Litter Bins. Already in their remit. Performance varies from very good to poor, but costs are astronomical.
    • Provide and Maintain Waste Water Treatment. Already in their remit. Outside Dublin, performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Provide and Maintain Street Lighting. Already in their remit. Good, but costs unknown.
    • Provide and Maintain Social Housing. Already in their remit. Performance varyes from very poor to meriting hanging.
    • Provide local arts and cultural venues and libraries Already in their remit. Weak in Dublin, shambolic elsewhere.
    • Provide public art works Already in their remit. Almost zero action outside Dublin.
    • Set local rates and household charges


    • Maintain regional facilities likes ports and piers. Already in their remit. Performance varies from very good to poor, but costs are astronomical.
    • Fire Service.Already in their remit. Good, but costs unknown.
    • Set environment policies such as the kind of rubbish disposal services it will provide to the urban areas such as dumps, recycling facilities, incinerators. Already in their remit. Performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Supply water. Already in their remit. Outside Dublin, performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Set regional rates and household charges.



    Clearly all this failure is the result of many factors, but a major one must be that the bodies are so small. Complexity is forcing commercial organisations to do more of less - companies are becoming larger and more specialised, meaning that them must serve a much larger market. In Ireland we have 90 separate local authorities processing planning permission, and 66 processing student grant applications. This is insanely inefficient.

    This complexity is driven by the advance of technology, so there is no reason why government should not be exposed to these forces too; the alternative is to be frozen in the 1970s.
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  2. #52
    FrankSpeaks FrankSpeaks is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    First up Frank, thanks for actually taking the time to be specific. But how are existing local authorities doing with the areas of responsibility you think they should have?



    • Agree the development plan and zone areas (this should be in keeping with the regional and national plans). Already in their remit (there are 90 local authorities responsible for planning in Ireland. Their performance is catastrophic, and they bear much responsibility for our current economic crisis - zoning in Kerry to house more than the entire population of Munster.
    • Agree if planning should be allowed for projects not meeting the original development plan. Already in their remit. Abysmal failure. Section Four, anyone?
    • Manage and maintain local parks, playgrounds and public areas.Already in their remit. Abysmal failure. Fewer playgrounds than golf courses
    • Determine the need for and source funding for new local roads. I don't know if they have authority for new roads; their maintenance of existing ones varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Prioritise and Manage maintenance on local roads and footpaths. Already in their remit. Performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Provide Street Cleaning and Empty Litter Bins. Already in their remit. Performance varies from very good to poor, but costs are astronomical.
    • Provide and Maintain Waste Water Treatment. Already in their remit. Outside Dublin, performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Provide and Maintain Street Lighting. Already in their remit. Good, but costs unknown.
    • Provide and Maintain Social Housing. Already in their remit. Performance varyes from very poor to meriting hanging.
    • Provide local arts and cultural venues and libraries Already in their remit. Weak in Dublin, shambolic elsewhere.
    • Provide public art works Already in their remit. Almost zero action outside Dublin.
    • Set local rates and household charges


    • Maintain regional facilities likes ports and piers. Already in their remit. Performance varies from very good to poor, but costs are astronomical.
    • Fire Service.Already in their remit. Good, but costs unknown.
    • Set environment policies such as the kind of rubbish disposal services it will provide to the urban areas such as dumps, recycling facilities, incinerators. Already in their remit. Performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Supply water. Already in their remit. Outside Dublin, performance varies from acceptable to abysmal.
    • Set regional rates and household charges.



    Clearly all this failure is the result of many factors, but a major one must be that the bodies are so small. Complexity is forcing commercial organisations to do more of less - companies are becoming larger and more specialised, meaning that them must serve a much larger market. In Ireland we have 90 separate local authorities processing planning permission, and 66 processing student grant applications. This is insanely inefficient.

    This complexity is driven by the advance of technology, so there is no reason why government should not be exposed to these forces too; the alternative is to be frozen in the 1970s.
    If you look into the use of section 4, I think you will find that the vast majority were for one of houses in rural areas. I don't know of and cannot remember any that were used in Tralee where I live. This is why I made the earlier point about the county councillors being more of a gombeen than the urban ones. Regarding your comments on the rest of the points, are they personal opinions or based on some independent audit?
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  3. #53
    GJG GJG is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    If you look into the use of section 4, I think you will find that the vast majority were for one of houses in rural areas.
    Source?

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    I don't know of and cannot remember any that were used in Tralee where I live.
    A small sample size there, I think. There are over 90 LAs with planning powers, so clearly the majority of them are not county councils. I don't think that anyone can argue that there has been an avalanche of corruption and incompetence in Irish planning and zoning.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    Regarding your comments on the rest of the points, are they personal opinions or based on some independent audit?
    Follow the links:

    Planning permission & Zoning - Planning Tribunal
    Supplying clean water - Repeated poisoning of the public, disastrous water quality leading to EU fines
    Parks and playgrounds
    Taxi regulation (until 2004)
    Maintaining penalty points database
    Maintaining the electoral register
    Processing student grant applications
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  4. #54
    FrankSpeaks FrankSpeaks is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    Source?
    They are know as Section 140 motions since 2001. See this extract (relevant bit in bold) of a letter from Joanna Kelly of the Irish Planning Institute in the Irish Times of October last year.

    The Editorial also incorrectly refers to the powers currently available to elected local authority members to direct a local authority manager under Section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001. Section 140 is not used in the zoning process and the changes announced by the Government do not change the role of councillors in zoning decisions. Section 140 has most commonly been used to permit developments, in particular one-off rural houses, against planners’ advice. It is therefore untrue to suggest that Section 140 is responsible for overzoning across the country. For many years the institute has supported the removal of section 140 provision and we welcome this announcement. Our planning system also allows for any third party to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála and independent appeals body.
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  5. #55
    GJG GJG is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    They are know as Section 140 motions since 2001. See this extract (relevant bit in bold) of a letter from Joanna Kelly of the Irish Planning Institute in the Irish Times of October last year.

    The Editorial also incorrectly refers to the powers currently available to elected local authority members to direct a local authority manager under Section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001. Section 140 is not used in the zoning process and the changes announced by the Government do not change the role of councillors in zoning decisions. Section 140 has most commonly been used to permit developments, in particular one-off rural houses, against planners’ advice. It is therefore untrue to suggest that Section 140 is responsible for overzoning across the country. For many years the institute has supported the removal of section 140 provision and we welcome this announcement. Our planning system also allows for any third party to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála and independent appeals body.
    Fair enough. I don't think that undermines the point that all local authority planning and zoning is a cesspit of corruption and incompetence. This particular aspect is largely restricted to CCs, not TCs, because by definition TCs don't control rural areas. If this is the only evidence of the superior nature of TCs, then they should be put out of our misery immediately.

    Could you address the other items in the list of incompetence that I gave? Is there any reason to believe that TCs perform less catastrophically in any of them?
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  6. #56
    FrankSpeaks FrankSpeaks is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    Source?



    A small sample size there, I think. There are over 90 LAs with planning powers, so clearly the majority of them are not county councils. I don't think that anyone can argue that there has been an avalanche of corruption and incompetence in Irish planning and zoning.



    Follow the links:

    Planning permission & Zoning - Planning Tribunal
    Supplying clean water - Repeated poisoning of the public, disastrous water quality leading to EU fines
    Parks and playgrounds
    Taxi regulation (until 2004)
    Maintaining penalty points database
    Maintaining the electoral register
    Processing student grant applications
    I'm not stating the our local government is perfect and that reform is not needed. I think places with a population of under 15,000 could be run by the regional authority and bigger places run themselves.

    Undoubtedly there was corruption in the planning and zoning processes that is no reason to remove a layer of local government, the rules on corruption should be strengthened and enforced, that will soon sort those problems out.

    Regarding water quality I think you will find that the vast majority of local authority supplied water is safe with notable exceptions in Galway City and Ennis. Most of the problem water was in private local schemes. We are also addressing on an ongoing basis the treatment of waste water in both urban areas and in the new inspections of septic tanks in rural areas.

    I agree that the number of playground in this country is inadequate but a big problem with them in the number of spurious insurance claims by individuals using them leading local authorities to close them and not put in new ones.

    The local councils should never be involved in Taxi Regulation, penalty points or student grants. The electoral register is a difficult one to call it hard to stay if it should be done locally or nationally or a combination.
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  7. #57
    GJG GJG is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    I'm not stating the our local government is perfect and that reform is not needed. I think places with a population of under 15,000 could be run by the regional authority and bigger places run themselves.
    How did you arrive at that figure? Is it a gut feeling thing, or is there any research behind it? For almost every industry, there are figures for what size of unit is most efficient (not always the biggest, but with increasing complexity, getting bigger). Shouldn't we at least have regard for what size is most beneficial, rather than picking numbers just to flatter puffed-up local gombeens?

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    Undoubtedly there was corruption in the planning and zoning processes that is no reason to remove a layer of local government, the rules on corruption should be strengthened and enforced, that will soon sort those problems out.
    Again, do you have any evidence for this? Essentially anti-corruption legislation is a dam trying to hold back a river of corrupt money - you might slow it down, but much better to eliminate it systematically. While we have one planning authority for every 50k people, it is inevitable that the beneficiary and decision-maker are frequently known to each other personally, making rational decisions much harder to achieve.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    Regarding water quality I think you will find that the vast majority of local authority supplied water is safe with notable exceptions in Galway City and Ennis. Most of the problem water was in private local schemes. We are also addressing on an ongoing basis the treatment of waste water in both urban areas and in the new inspections of septic tanks in rural areas.
    Priceless. Do you think Coke or Pepsi would trade under the slogan "We hardly poison any of our customers any more"? The private water schemes exist because of the failure of local authorities. For "We are addressing on an ongoing basis..." read "We are still failing."

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    The local councils should never be involved in Taxi Regulation, penalty points or student grants. The electoral register is a difficult one to call it hard to stay if it should be done locally or nationally or a combination.
    We agree on the stupidity of giving many of these functions to LAs. Once you take them away, and also take away the functions where LAs are poisoning us, destroying our economy and so on, what is left? Is it worth giving them €10bn per year to fund all this failure?
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  8. #58
    Cornerman Cornerman is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSpeaks View Post
    The kind of things that I expect my urban local authority to do are:

    • Agree the development plan and zone areas (this should be in keeping with the regional and national plans).
    • Agree if planning should be allowed for projects not meeting the original development plan.
    • Manage and maintain local parks, playgrounds and public areas.
    • Determine the need for and source funding for new local roads.
    • Prioritise and Manage maintenance on local roads and footpaths.
    • Provide Street Cleaning and Empty Litter Bins.
    • Provide and Maintain Waste Water Treatment.
    • Provide and Maintain Street Lighting.
    • Provide and Maintain Social Housing.
    • Provide local arts and cultural venues and libraries.
    • Provide public art works.
    • Set local rates and household charges.
    • Hold the local manager and officials to account.


    The kind of things I expect a regional or county authority to provide are:

    • Agree the regional development plan and set zone areas (this should agree with national goals).
    • Agree if planning should be allowed for projects not meeting the original development plan.
    • Maintain national parks and public areas within the region.
    • Determine the need for and source funding for new regional and national roads.
    • Maintain regional and national roads within the region.
    • Maintain regional facilities likes ports and piers.
    • Fire Service.
    • Set environment policies such as the kind of rubbish disposal services it will provide to the urban areas such as dumps, recycling facilities, incinerators.
    • Supply water.
    • Set regional rates and household charges.
    • Hold the regional manager and officials to account.


    There is obviously going to be considerable interaction between the regional and local bodies, for example they will have to coordinate road maintenance, many regional facilities will be situated in the towns. As the urban areas have the greatest concentration of population some of the rates and household charges that fund the bodies will need to be transferred to the regional authority.
    Sorry for joining this thread late and not reading through every post before commenting - but isn't the issue the abolition of town councils, not major urban district councils? Town Councils don't do most of the above surely?

    I ran a business in a small coastal co Cork town with a very 'efficient' town council (i.e. they balanced the books every year) but as a small business owner 'they' were an absolute nightmare to deal with. They had no communications strategy (a never updated website, and the idea that communicating council decisions and requests for comments was achieved with a piece of paper pinned to a notice board in the town hall.)

    The real problem wasn't so much the elected councillors - mostly useless, but powerless - but the manager/office staff/red tape-ocrats. My fear is that when this council is abolished (horray!!!!!!!!) the inefficiency, bloody mindedness, and thought paralyzed machine within the town hall walls will really still be there. Still going through the rubbish bins for names and addresses of people to fine. And being the bane of every business owner in the town.
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  9. #59
    Mattarigna Mattarigna is offline

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    Well, in fairness, the reforms were half-arsed anyways, with the possible exception of the property tax.
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  10. #60
    Mattarigna Mattarigna is offline

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    GJG, applying your logic, is there any reason why the Dail should not be abolished as well? Abolishing bodies does not always improve the situation - it moves the problems elsewhere. I am not saying that stuff like Taxi regulation and healthcare should be returned to county councils - clearly, they are not structured to deal with such issues. Nor am I saying that the Town Councils should be left as they are - villages should not be getting an extra layer of representation than relatively large towns in the country are not - but that there are merits to having towns(which should include their surrounding areas) manage services for the town, as it's not like in a County Council, where towns and villages may be fighting each other for the retention of local services when cut-backs are needed. Local Government has being atrociously designed in this country, with councils having responsibility for stuff they are clearly not structured for and responsibilities managed at local level everywhere is being managed by a National quango.

    In places like Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan etc, town councils can't replace County councils 100%, due to a lack of sizable urban areas. However, a district council system like Denmark would be a good model to base reforms on.
    Last edited by Mattarigna; 16th January 2013 at 11:24 PM.
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