A reshuffle of the senior management in Mayo County Council will kick in at the start of next month, the chief executive of the council, Peter Hynes, told the elected members of the council at their September meeting this week. The reshuffle will see two new full time directors of services who were appointed recently, Joanne Grehan and Thomas Gilligan, taking over their new roles.
Mr Hynes told the members a reshuffle of the responsibilities of these directors will take place and they will be spread over five pillars. The five pillars are service delivery and efficiency, assets (including housing, roads and environment ), development and engagement (including enterprise and investment ), corporate affairs (including emergency services and staff development and recruitment ) and financial management (with a emphasis on revenue collection ).
He told the meeting: "In the case of the service delivery efficiency pillar, we will also have four heads of the municipal districts, who will have the bulk of the responsibility and the authority in decision making terms that is currently devolved to the directors. It will be citizen focused and about service development; we don't do a lot of work at the moment in terms of customer satisfaction and we need to put that right. There will also be an efficiency review team working with that director and with the heads of the districts, to ensure that we are as efficient as we can be in delivering services and in evolving new services across each of the four groups."
However a large number of councillors were concerned with Mr Hynes saying that the new heads of the four municipal districts would have "the bulk of the responsibility and the authority in decision making terms that is currently devolved to the directors" and not the full powers that are currently held by the current management team locally.
Independent Cllr Chirsty Hyland told the meeting: "I've to get my head around the responsibilities of the directors, if they have 90 per cent of what they had. What's the 10 they don't have? Because that's the kernel of it, what is the 10 per cent they won't have? That's very important that we know." Fianna Fáil Cllr Brendan Mulroy had similar concerns, saying: "I would have a concern in relation with 90 per cent power, for me that will not work. Not being able to make 10 per cent of a decision, you're better off saying that you don't have the power to make that decision at all, even though you can say certain powers will be diluted to the director of services, you can be guaranteed that one per cent in every decision will not be diluted and that is my difficulty with it."
Sinn Féin Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh added: "I'm confused around what this might mean, on the one had we're saying we're talking up the autonomy of the areas, and on the other hand we're taking away some of the power from it. I think as a local authority we're fixing things that aren't broken. I am concerned about where the decision making capacity will lie, because that's where the proof of the pudding will be. I'm also concerned about the core functions of the council, in roads, housing, and water, that they are being left behind. I completely understand and there is a big role for Mayo County Council in terms of job creation and I commend the work that's being done, but we must not lose sight of the core functions."
Fianna Fáil Cllr Damien Ryan asked that a workshop be put on with the council management and the elected councillors to go through where the changes would be made and how it would effect the areas. Mr Hynes agreed to hold a workshop but told the elected members that the decision making power in this regard rested solely with him and him alone. He said that "Delegation and where the power will be, power is a big word. At the end of the day there is an not a lot of power floating around, there's a lot of responsibility and the responsibility for naming a team and placing a team at the end of the day comes back to one seat regardless of the consultation and that one seat is here. It's not something I look forward too or I currently enjoy, but it is here and it will be dealt with. A workshop (we're ) very happy to have it to discuss the finer detail of what we are doing so people understand, not to thrash out the broad thrust of whats happening and outline were we are going." He also added "In terms of the future, I've outlined the structure that we are going for and I'm happy to have a workshop around the finer detail. I want to wish (the outgoing acting directors of services ) Paul (Benson ) and Martin (Keating ) well, it's not like they are going away or leaving the organisation.The workshop won't be about the broader thrust of the organisation or about who goes where at the end of the day that responsibility will be discharged from this seat."
Article update at 9.30am, Friday September 18 to correct miss quotation (CG )