Council merger report runs well over time

Galway County Hall...merger review.

A final report by an advisory group on “governance and representational aspects” of an amalgamated single council for Galway is over three months behind schedule with no timeline for its completion.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that it was still proceeding with the creation of a “new unified Galway authority”.

In 2015, a local government committee recommended the merger of Galway City Council and Galway County Council rather than any boundary alteration.

The group concluded that “this would maximise the potential of the region to maintain, secure and grow a sustainable economic base into the future, combining the respective strengths of the two existing authorities in terms of resources, staff and expertise”.

In December 2016, an expert advisory group was charged with carrying out further detailed examination and planning arising from the 2015 report. The group, led by Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, held ten meetings over five months on the technical feasibility of the enlarged council.

In its interim report completed last June, the group backed the merger “on the basis of its more detailed analysis of local authority services and related financial matters”, explained the Department press officer, Eddie Kiernan.

It recommended appointing a dedicated team to pursue economic development, spatial planning and enterprise/local development.

“A further phase of the advisory group’s review is proceeding, dealing with other aspects of its terms of reference, particularly governance and representational aspects, and a final report arising from this work is awaited,” he stated.

The Minister for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Sean Kyne has now called for the amalgamation to be scrapped.

He says it is time for certainty on the future of the City and Council councils which should remain separate.

“It’s time to draw a line under this process. Had there been consensus and buy-in from all sides it may have worked but at this stage there is no prospect of agreement on an amalgamation and we must move on,” he insisted.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.