Thursday 24 June 2010

Cork city manager surprised council is part of inquiry

CORK CITY manager Joe Gavin expressed surprise and disappointment at learning Cork City Council was to be included in the review. He said the first that he knew of it was when he heard Minister for the Environment John Gormley announce it on radio yesterday.

He had received no official information on the alleged irregularity and he expected a letter from the Department of the Environment in the coming day.

He was satisfied the procedures followed in the council were first class. “I would be very concerned that anyone would think there are irregularities in Cork City Council’s planning department because there aren’t,” he said.

Cork county manager Martin Riordan first heard about the inquiry on the radio yesterday.

“I’m not clear what the Minister is concerned about,” Mr Riordan said. He was not aware of an unresolved planning issue at the council and was anxious to “clear up that”.

Dublin City Council had yesterday not received details of the specific complaints being investigated or the terms of reference.

However, it would “co-operate fully” with Mr Gormley’s request “when received”, a council statement said.

All decisions were “made in the context of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”, the statement said.

The announcement had come “out of the blue”, Dublin Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said.

Officials told a council planning committee meeting yesterday that it had received no information and no advance warning about the review, Dublin councillor Seán Kenny (Labour) said.

Complaints by an individual about corporate governance at the Carlow County Council planning department was the main issue under investigation in the planning review for Carlow, the county manager has said.

Carlow is one of six local authorities for which a review of how planning laws and policy have been implemented has been ordered by the Minister.

Carlow County Council was audited by the department’s local government audit service in 2008. The corporate governance and planning issues which were raised in the 2008 audit report would be similar to those examined in the forthcoming investigation, Carlow county manager Tom Barry said.

Among the corporate governance issues raised were the use of special development contributions, planning enforcement and planning time being extended at quarries .

The council had not yet received a formal notification of the report. “I am happy to respond and give reasons why I made the decisions,” Mr Barry said.

No information or notification of the planning review had been received by the majority of the six local authorities concerned.

The number of approvals by Galway County Council which were subsequently overturned by An Bord Pleanála was a key factor in the decision to approve this local authority in the inquiry, Green Party Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin said yesterday. Galway County Council was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Galway’s An Taisce branch has welcomed Mr Gormley’s planning review for Galway County Council, but has called for it to be extended to the city.

Last winter’s flooding of estates built on river plains highlighted the need to review planning in the county area, branch chairman Derrick Hambleton said.

Irish Times

No comments: