More resources and additional housing liason officers are needed to properly deal with the scourge of the anti-social behaviour problem throughout the county which is costing thousands of euro, that is according to Galway County Councillor Seán Canney.
The Independent councillor for the Tuam electoral area spoke out this week against the council, describing the proposed anti-social behaviour strategy as a “useless document” that will have little effect unless more resources are put in place to back it up. He said that at present there are only three housing liaison officers for the entire county and the council is struggling to come to grips with the problem of anti-social behaviour.
“Just one example of the money being spent was seen recently at Kilmartin Road in Tuam where €100,000 was spent in dealing with illegal dumping. That was just one clean up job. This is the main thoroughfare through the town and there were houses bought privately for development and were never developed, and houses owned by the council which never had tenants in them. So there was dumping all around and they had to be cleaned inside and out. There was also the boarding up of windows at unoccuppied houses. This is costing money. There are also other areas such as Loughrea and Ballinasloe where the council is not getting to grips with the problem.
“We have three housing liaison officers for the whole county. I was at a joint policing committee seminar in Cork recently and they have 10 officers for the county which is comparible in size to our own and we should have the same amount. There is one housing liason officer for Tuam, Headford, Mountbellew, Ballygar, and other areas. The officers’ briefs are so wide-spread, I don’t know how they are coping with it. They have to vet people on the housing list looking for rent supplement as well as deal with tenant issues. They need more support. The strategy is not much use if the resources are not there,” he said.
Cllr Canney is calling on the council to provide more resources by deploying additional liaison officers sourced from within the existing council staff. “If we provide the proper level of staffing we can save hundreds of thousands of euros spent by Galway County Council in cleaning up estates and boarding up windows,” said Cllr Canney, who is also calling on the local authority and the Garda to implement a zero tolerance strategy before it is too late to stamp out the scourge of anti-social behaviour that has been allowed to become normal in society.