A Notice of Motion submitted by three members of North Tipperary County Council calling on the local authority not to form a Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) until there is a national agreement between the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the ILDN on the delivery of the LCDC and the Leader programme through the alignment working group process, was unanimously backed this week.
The changing face of local Government has caused concerns amongst many groups and organisations especially with the proposal to introduce Local Community Development Committees for the purpose of developing, co-ordinating and implementing a coherent integrated approach to local and community development. This is now law and must be implemented by all local authorities.
However, the resistence to change, and public support garnered by North Tipperary Leader Partnership, as suggested by the almost 500 people who turned up to a public meeting in Nenagh recently, was quite evident in the council chamber this week as member after member rose to praise the work of Leader, their bottom-up approach and flexibility in dealing with local community groups - characteristics which many felt could be lost under the LCDC’s.
Director of Services Sinead Carr explained to members that the LCDC’s would be independent of the local authority and would comprise 49% state agency representation, and 51% voluntary/community representation. Local Development companies such as Leader would be represented under the guidelines, she said.
The Director pointed out that the make-up of the LCDC would ensure that the bottom-up approach would remain and would be a key principle of how the committee operates. She added that they would have authority and responsibility to ensure that monies generated from the public purse are spent in a co-ordinated and planned manner by all of the relevant sectors in the community and development fields. This would be effective and would help provide better value for money she said.
And, Sinead Carr warned that a delay on the establishment of the LCDC could impact negatively on local community groups and the citizens of the county, both in the context of the funds and supports it receives and the funds and supports offered through the Regional Development Programme. In addition funds and supports which would be expected from other departments in Government and channelled through the LCDC could also be denied, she said.
“The new structure is trying to bring in all the agencies under one umbrella. A lot of the fears being expressed will not come to pass, but I fear that that if we don’t establish the LCDC we may lose out because we will not be in line. There is a timeline involved in this and if we do not get our act together we will miss the deadline for submissions and will be left behind other counties. Setting up the LCDC will not undermine the ability of the community to access supports and I would be very anxious that we not be caught napping on this one,” she said.
Despite this, the Notice of Motion put forward by Cllrs Seamus Morris, John Carroll and Jonathan Meaney was adopted unanimously in a bid to buy more time prior to the establishment of the LCDC.