Windows in some local authority housing are unfit for purpose and urgently need replacing, councillors heard at Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District (February 6 ).
Councillors had requested that a member of the Westmeath County Council’s housing authority attend this month’s district meeting to deliver an update on the condition of local authority housing.
However, when Monday’s meeting commenced councillors learned that there would not be a representative from the department in attendance, and instead they were furnished with a report on the issue.
The report stated that the housing department is currently in discussions regarding the putting in place of a planned maintenance programme, but that this could only be implemented after the completion of a survey of all 1,850 local authority houses, due to take place in the coming months.
Several councillors reacted badly to the manner in which the housing department chose to communicate with the council.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, said he is “disappointed with the response”. He criticised the fact that the council is considering examining all 1,850 local authority houses before any action is taken. He added that local needs have already been identified and postponing action simply amounts to “kicking the whole problem further down the road”.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke (FF ) remarked that he would not refer to the communication from the council as “a report”. He said it did not feel like councillors’ concerns were getting through, and that it was vital that a representative attend the next meeting with a view to progressing this issue.
Sinn Féin councillor, Paul Hogan, called the report “insulting”. He noted that a survey of local authority housing had previously been carried out and circulated to members. He said to hear that another survey is to be carried out amounts to “a slap in the face” for public representatives.
Mayor John Dolan (FG ) said it appeared as though the report had been completely forgotten about only to be hashed up in a panic on the morning of the meeting “to keep councillors quiet”. He added that the windows currently in place are a security concern as they cannot be locked.
He said the issue has been raised on a number of occasions and by numerous councillors, and assured those present that he will see to it personally that a housing representative from the council attend the next meeting.