THE impasse between Irish Water and the county council needs to be resolved urgently, Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary argued this week when he claimed it was preventing the taking in charge of housing estates by the council.
These estates, he pointed out, are, in fact ready for handover as snag-lists have been sorted out. But the reports have been “put on the shelf” he argued.
“It is an absolute disgrace that estates done and dusted have been left there for months without any work being done about taking them in charge,” he said.
As a result, home-owners in these estates don’t get the grass-cutting, lighting and other services the council provides. “If a bulb blows, there is nobody to replace it,” Cllr Keary argued.
Fianna Fail’s James Collins was equally incensed. In December, he pointed out, his party, had opposed the handing over of the council’s water assets to to a company that at the time was not established and without knowing the details of the service level agreement between the council and Irish Water.
“We asked for a presentation from Irish Water who still haven’t come into the chamber,” he said. The council was now discovering what its obligations were.
“Housing estates are signed off by the council but now suddenly we have to jump through another hoop,” he said. “We do not know what criteria we have to meet and if these are not met, who pays to repair it. Probably us.”
Householders in these estates were getting a different service even though they paid their property tax, he pointed out. “We can’t take over roads, footpaths lights until Irish Water sign off.”
“It is obvious the agreement isn’t working,” Cllr Collins said, and he demanded of manager Conn Murray: “Are you happy with this situation, with the fact we can’t take estates in charge because of “policies and procedures still being developed” by Irish Water?”
“Everything was ready but now this other obstacle is coming in the way,” Cllr Brigid Teefy said. “The engineers themsevles don’t know what extra needs to be done.”
Cllr Kevin Sheahan argued that some bona fide developers were being put to the pin of their collar by the delay in the handover of estates. And he warned, in some instances it could be dangerous to their health.
But Cllr Michael Sheahan said they should put it up to Irish Water by moving immediately to identify all estates that had been snagged and cleared and to provide written confirmation to Irish Water on the transfer of these estates.
Director of services for water, Kieran Lehane explained that Irish Water wanted written confirmation that there were no liabilities. “Let us test them” Cllr Michael Sheahan said, urging the council to be pro-active.
Manager Conn Murray told councillors as the debate wound up that there was “no reason we can’t proceed.”