The impending abolition of the town councils was discussed by the Westport councillors at last week’s annual budget meeting. Cllr Christy Hyland first raised the issue by saying: “Westport is a good example of a town council and now people will have to go over to the new municipal authority with cap in hand like Oliver, asking please sir can I have more?”
Cllr Margaret Adams added it is “too bad” that the council will finish in June 2014, and she said once the council ceases local groups will find it hard to get funding. Cllr Myles Staunton agreed that groups would not have as much access to local representatives as they do now. Cllr Staunton added: “The message should go out that Westport rates should be ringfenced for Westport town.”
Cllr Brendan Mulroy accused Minister Phil Hogan of making “an ass of it” and said “the people of Westport don’t see it coming”. The Fianna Fáil councillor said that by 2019 “we can all mow the grass on Bridge Street” as he feels that will be the state of the town by then. He put to Fine Gael council members that “ye can save this”, “with a stroke of a pen this can be reversed”. Cllr Adams agreed that the six people on the town council who are part of the Government “should have made the case long ago”.
Cllr Ollie Gannon condemned Minister Hogan’s decision describing it as a disaster for Westport.
Labour councillor Keith Martin said “a profitable and reliable town council is being abolished”, adding it “solves nothing, saves nothing and robs the town’s development... it’s shameful.”
Cllr Michael McLaughlin said: “We are testament to what a good town council should be,” and proposed that the case be made at the next town council meeting when Tom Ryan, director of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland, will be in attendance.