Council cuts budget for derelict sites

Local councillors are to receive a report on the town’s derelict sites at their next council meeting, after it emerged that the council is to reduce both its spend and its estimated income in that area for the coming year.

Last week’s budget revealed that Athlone Town Council’s estimated spend on derelict sites for 2012 is €3,500, less than half of last year’s budget of €8,221, while its income is predicted to fall from €20,000 to €11,000.

Mayor of Athlone Alan Shaw said he was disappointed that the council was reducing its projected income from derelict sites.

“The estimated income is €11,000, a drop of €9,000. I would have thought the council would focus on this area and invest resources to come to grips with the situation,” he said.

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden said she didn’t understand why the council was reducing its spend in this area when “there doesn’t seem to be any change or improvement”.

“There’s a pub in Baylough, the Texas Centre, boarding on the Ballymahon Road, and nothing has happened with any of them,” she pointed out.

Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said something urgently needs to be done about the town’s derelict sites.

“The Texas site is horrendous and nothing is happening. People think we are doing nothing.”

Acting town clerk Edel Martin explained that the council are trying to get property owners to engage with them.

“It is our preference to render sites un-derelict. The drop in income is to be more realistic. Income is on the basis of an annual charge if a property is derelict... The final straw is we issue a levy on the property; we charge the owner for having a derelict site.”

Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne requested a report at the next town council meeting on all derelict sites in the town.

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