Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan has told the Mayo Advertiser this week he is concerned that the redundancies the council is looking for could lead to the closure of council area offices.
“The future of the area offices is something that I have a major concern about, we have electoral areas that are bigger than some counties in Ireland and we can’t do without these offices,” he said. “They provide essential services to the people in Mayo. With the number of redundancies that are being looked for I want to know from the council management how are they going to do this without affecting services.”
Mayo County Council currently has eight area offices around the county based in Westport, Swinford, Newport, Claremorris, Castlebar, Belmullet, Ballinrobe, and Ballina along with the main council office located in Áras an Chontae in Castlebar.
If the closure of area offices is on the cards it is something that Cllr Ryan said he will not stand for. The potential closure of area offices was reported by this paper in January when at the council’s budget meeting, county manager Peter Hynes said: “There is no guarantee that we can retain a decentralised delivery of services.” He also said at the same meeting, “Consolidation and redeployment are things that we are working our way through. We hope to see more flexible work practices through the council. When we complete a full investigation of all this during the year we will see where we are. It may lead to some of the peripheral area offices being withdrawn. We may not wish to see it happen but it is on the table.” The county council is meeting today at 11am in a special meeting to discuss the proposed job cuts. The meeting was called by Cathaoirleach Cllr Michael Burke after he received a letter signed by 10 councillors to call the meeting on April 22.
Cllr Ryan said that there are a number of things he wanted clarified at this morning’s meeting, including, “How will the council expect to get the number of redundancies that they are looking for? To ensure that there will be no enforced redundancies on any member of staff and to find out what sections the council will be looking for the redundancies from, because services are already stretched in a number of areas.”
Cllr Ryan’s fears in relation to the retention of the area offices in the county comes not long after concerns were expressed by a number of councillors and council officials that the machinery yard the council operates in Castlebar could face a serious downgrading due to the cut back in capital projects being carried out in the county.