Councillor proposes adoption of technology to bypass his own job

On the day the abolition of town councils was to be discussed by the Cabinet, a Mullingar councillor suggested adopting a piece of technology that could speed up the council’s own demise.

At what may be the last ever formal meeting of Mullingar Town Council, Cllr Aidan Davitt enquired at the July meeting on Tuesday evening whether the “county council can investigate the success of the iPhone app ‘Fix my Neighbourhood’ and if it could implement the same?”

The new director of services for Mullingar, David Hogan, said he believed the IT section at Westmeath County Council would be well suited to deal with such an idea.

“I just hope it wouldn’t make you councillors redundant,” he offered to a room full of nervous laughter.

An iPhone app (application ) is a facility on the present generation of mobile phones that allows users interact directly with a third party on a specific issue through the internet.

This particular application allows concerned citizens to photograph a broken tree, or kerbstone, or a piece of vandalism, tag it with a GPS location and send it directly to a local authority.

“People who are IT literate will use this,” predicted Cllr Davitt.

He went on to explain how this service had been successfully trialled by South Dublin County Council in recent months, and that this authority was now offering a reply to its citizens within 48 hours, “but not that it would be fixed in that time”.

In February Minister Phil Hogan announced he was looking at abolishing up to 25 of the 80 town councils across the country, and on Tuesday this very proposal was on the “very long agenda” for this term’s last Cabinet meeting. No decision on this has yet been made.

Town councillors are paid an average of just under €17,000 a year, while the town council had an annual expenditure of €133,345 for 2011.

As there are no plans yet to abolish urban councils, it is believed the council in Athlone will not face the same axe at this time.


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