THE man appointed to ensure the merger of the councils goes smoothly has admitted there may be some “rationalisation” of area offices in Limerick.
But as the first anniversary of Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to merge the councils approaches, Tom Enright said a decision is unlikely to be made until the make-up of the new council is known, expected to be later this year.
At present, Limerick County Council has area offices in Kilmallock, Annacotty, Croom, Mungret and Rathkeale.
These have a variety of functions, including maintenance and storage facilities. A number of staff provide local services out of these offices. They become very important during times of inclement weather when supplies are needed quickly to make roads and footpaths safe.
Mr Enright, who was appointed by Mr Hogan to oversee the running of the merger, stressed no decision has yet been made on the future of these offices.
The Implementation Committee is chaired by businessman Denis Brosnan, and they are expected to present their second report to Mr Hogan in the next month.
This is expected to contain an outline of how functions will be split between the current City Hall and County Hall, and the area offices when the merger takes place in 2014.
Mr Enright said: “The rationalisation of offices is something which is being looked at. But it is something that no firm decision has been made on. Generally though, we would like to have an office which would serve each area. It is for us to determine where the best locations might be for offices.”
The County Council employed Mr Enright has also come out in support of keeping the “corporate headquarters” of Limerick in the centre.
He said: “One of the things we are giving very close attention to is revitalising the city centre as part of the new authority. This will be one of the priorities of the new authority. City Hall has to be the main office of the new authority. We have to decide what the most appropriate services that would fit into City Hall. My personal view is that the services which have the greatest interaction with the public should be located in the centre, so the corporate headquarters should be located in the centre of the city, where there is greater footfall.”
Cathaoirleach Mary Harty said the council’s area structure is very important. She said: “A lot of councillors will tell you the area meetings are a lot more productive than council meetings, because this is where we get all the work done.”