Deputy Mayor Noel Gleeson
LIMERICK City and County Council is to ringfence €1m to aggressively combat ‘compo culture’ in 2017.
During a Cappamore-Kilmallock Municipal District meeting, Sean Coughlan, director of support services, said the money will be used to repair known blackspots and reduce claims from trips and falls.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Coughlan said insurance is one of the biggest costs they have and it has increased significantly over the last number of years.
An FOI request last year revealed the council paid just over €4m for insurance to IPB in 2016 – close to a 20% rise on 2014.
“There is €1m allocated to spend. We are going to take a very aggressive approach this year. It is mainly in the city - there is a culture there of claiming. We have now with IPB been able to identify the hot spots so we are now in a better position to defend these cases.
"We are getting much more information and taking photos of where it happened – before and afterwards. That allows us to be able to select what cases we will fight. We are really focusing on enforcement,” said Mr Coughlan.
According to the Injuries Board in 2015, Limerick had the highest number of personal injury awards, per head, in the State for the previous five years. Mr Coughlan said they are allocating resources – staff and financial – to improve the blackspots.
”It started in the Metropolitan area where the councillors assigned all their GMA to fix footpaths. If we don’t invest in this our insurance costs are going to cripple us which means we are taking money away from the services. We are one of the highest in the country in terms of claims,” said Mr Coughlan.
The matter arose after Deputy Mayor Noel Gleeson asked why footpaths weren’t mentioned in the extra services provided by the increase in property tax. The €1.6m is broken into €515,000 for roads; €220,000 street cleaning; €200,000 traffic management; €65,000 community; €110,000 library services; €200,000 tourism; €100,000 fire service; €20,000 litter control; €140,000 maintenance of parks, pitches and local spaces.
Cllr Gleeson said all of the special €1m fund will be used to repair footpaths in the city.
“We want a fair crack of the whip in the county,” said the deputy mayor.