Council services to customers in the Thurles Templemore area face a radical shake-up under new local government reforms, heard Councillors at a special meeting of Thurles Town Council on Monday evening.
Director of Services Matt Shortt explained that the number of Councillors in the County is being reduced from 113 down to 40. The three local government buildings in Thurles - Thurles Area Office, Library HQ, and the Town Council - will be amalgamated to one central office, to be located in Castle Avenue/Matthew Avenue, on the grounds of the Library, with a car park to be built at the rear.
At present, about 75% of the Library office is taken up with book storage. “Thurles will have the district head office, with an enhanced customers services desk,” said Mr Shortt.
One of the benefits of merging the town with the wider region will be that there will be no conflict between Town and County Council issues, and greater access to wider pool of staff.
Cllr David Doran said that some of the information regarding the changes had entered the public domain “very shoddily.” Frontline staff have not been kept up to date on the changes. Cllr Doran said there would be no office in Roscrea or Templemore where people could contact Council services. Also, “would people from Nenagh or Clonmel be dealing with housing applications for Thurles?”.
Cllr Noel O’Dwyer said he was “suspicious of the jargon” used in the policy documents, called “Putting People First.” Reducing administration was fine, “but what you really want is a few fellas with shovels who can get the work done.”
Cllr John Kenehan said service reaction times were likely to suffer. What previously took a few hours to do, would now take “days or weeks.” Cllr Kenehan said he hoped local knowledge would not be lost, particularly in the area of housing.
“The overall effect would be “spreading out services over a thinner area.” Services such as the payments of grants, and even Cemetery maintenance could suffer, while planning fees could increase. “Thurles will get a smaller slice of the pie,” said Cllr Kenehan.
Cllr Jim Ryan said he is “totally opposed to this.” “It’s a sad day.”
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