Pensioners, unemployed, and people with disabilities who used their own initiative to improve their living conditions without any contribution from the Galway City Council should not be neglected by the same body.
This is the view of Labour Cllr Billy Cameron. He proposed that tenants who had already installed their own central heating prior to the introduction of the council’s installation programme be compensated with a token financial gesture.
However there is reluctance in City Hall to agree to the measure and councillors on City Hall’s Housing Strategic Policy are divided on the issue. It is understood that the number of people affected is 55.
Cllr Cameron believes the council has a “moral obligation to compensate these 55 tenants”. He says a payment of €500 to each tenant would amount to €27,500, “not a gigantic sum considering the overall sum provided for housing maintenance in the Budget 2008 was €3,216,134”.
Cllr Cameron proposed this idea originally at the 2007 Annual Budget Meeting. It was decided to refer it to the Housing SPC. Members of the committee debated the issue and could not reach an agreement. As no agreement was reached, it was decided to refer the matter back to the full council.
According to Cllr Cameron, the director of services recommended that the council not make payments as the tenants were in a position to install the central heating without grant-aid; it would be a waste of public money to pay a grant to someone who did not require it; any payment that would be made from the council resources would be paid from the housing maintenance budget and would therefore impact on essential maintenance programmes.
Cllr Cameron remains determined to see his proposal become a reality.
“I am not for turning on this issue,” he said. “Tenants are being penalised for enhancing the housing stock of the Galway City Council. They are financially worse off having borrowed from either credit unions or banks to install their own heating system saving the council time and labour.
“I am utterly disappointed with councillors who sit on the SPC for showing lack of compassion and leadership,” he said. “A year has practically been wasted ping-ponging this motion between SPC and full council