Local Government Reform – Anoraks better look at this. It is very significant.

Meeting with Minister Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community
and Local Government – held on 13th July, 2011 in Leinster House.
Hogan is serious business. No messing with him.

Present:
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government:
Minister Phil Hogan
Mr. Denis Conlon, Principal Officer

Dublin Regional Authority Delegation:
Councillor Paddy Bourke, Cathaoirleach
Councillor Neale Richmond
Councillor Peter Coyle
Councillor Maire Devine
Councillor Gerry Horkan
Councillor Mannix Flynn
Ms. Patricia Potter, Director

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Minister’s Comments:

1. Reform of local and regional government

• The Minister would be glad to meet with the DRA when he has
established settled views of the directions to be taken in the reform
of local and regional government
• Dublin is important and different from rest of country and the
Minister is committed to a directly elected Mayor for Dublin in 2014
• The structure for the Mayor and regional authority for Dublin has
not been agreed yet
• Regional authorities, in general, will be looked at in the coming
months. However, due to its size, Dublin will retain a regional
dimension that may not be applicable to the rest of the country
• The Minister’s initial focus is on Limerick, followed by Tipperary
and Waterford. Dublin will be looked at later
• There will be some comments on the sub-county structures by the end
of the year, including role of area committees, etc
• The numbers of councillors at present (i.e. 130 in Dublin) cannot be
sustained, especially with the introduction of a directly elected
mayor. However, a regional authority for Dublin should have more than
15 representatives
• Constituency review – review of DEDs = the current legislation
prohibits changes to electoral divisions. Legislation on constituency
reform going through at present will have regard to the new CSO
figures. The Minister would personally prefer a bottom up approach,
but hopefully that will be addressed in 2012
• There will not be a commission on local authority reform; there are
a number of reports in the Department already. There will, however,
be a boundary commission in 2012

2. Local Taxes

• Household charge will be introduced in January 2012 for a 2 year
period and, in that time, the Minister will come up with a fair
distribution and equalisation fund. He would like to see the local
authorities being able to keep this household charge, but, this is a
matter for the Department of Finance. The Local Government Fund will
be reduced significantly as a result
• Metered water charges will be introduced in 2014. The Minister
would like to see local authorities collect and hold on to this charge
also, if allowed
• A centralised water body will be set up, similar to the NRA. This
body will an agent of delivery, will attract private investment and be
a centralised source for a water conservation project. A report on
this matter will issue by end of July, 2011.
• The Minister accepted that public representatives get ignored by
bodies such as the NRA, however, he will put a democratic dimension
into this water body

3. Foreshore Licences

• Foreshore Licences will be linked to the planning process.
Legislation will be put before the Dáil by the end of the year. There
will be no local powers in relation to Foreshore Licences except as
relates to the assessment of planning applications that have a need
for a licence
• Local Authorities whose administrative areas include water-locked
land, i.e. Lambay, should make a submission to the Minister regarding
issues such as access, renewable energy opportunities, etc.

4. Waste and Water

• Waste has a regional dimension and this will continue. The outcome
of the Poolbeg issues will determine how things progress in Dublin.
• Waste, water, transport and planning will all have regional
dimension in the Dublin region
• Water – finance is in place for the rehabilitation of the water pipe
network. Social housing also needs metering in order to identify
waste from leakage. Rain water harvesting, etc, will also be part of
the water conservation project. The Minister knows that Dublin City
Council is under pressure and he is proceeding with the project which
will bring water from the Shannon to Dublin

4. Social housing maintenance

• The household charge will provide support for local authorities to
borrow against and, therefore, to take on more work
• NAMA – The Department is trying to extract a social dividend from
NAMA, an acquisition will be made shortly from NAMA to demonstrate
this. Local authorities should make recommendations to the Minister
in relation to NAMA land developments
• HFA are purchasing houses through NAMA. Housing Departments should
write to the Minister with regard to housing provision through NAMA.

5. Regional Planning Guidelines

• Planning will have a regional dimension in Dublin. New Planning Act
will be introduced in 2012 to move some of the powers back to local
authorities and out of the DoECLG. The Minister also stated that a
new National Spatial Strategy will be drawn up.

13th July, 2011