Thursday, 13 December 2018
Local Government Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I think they have also accepted that the proposal as presented is not workable. It is a pity it was rushed in at the last minute. If it had been presented during the pre-legislative scrutiny process we could have ironed out many of the problems arising today.
Bray has been mentioned. My concern is in regard to the removal of the democratic process. For example, if I am one of the eight councillors elected to Bray County Council but not one of the three elected to the committee I would have no democratic say in how my local area plan is adopted. I also agree with Deputy Naughten's remarks in regard to proportionality. Regardless of what structure is put in place, finding a balanced solution will be difficult. This piece is missing form the debate. We have discussed with the Minister of State the idea of the municipal districts or the wards being the bodies that would sign off on plans rather than a select committee of eight people. We have offered solutions in our contributions today, which I believe the Minister of State will take on board.
We also have concerns regarding the make-up of the committees, in particular the appointment of four outsiders to the committee, although I understand they would not have voting rights. Currently, local areas plans, county plans and regional plans are adopted without outside involvement. There is no need for such people to be members of the committee because we could always call on them if we needed them. The issue of sequencing is also of concern. This issue has been driven by the national planning framework in regard to the regional plans, the county plans and the local area plans but in this instance, the sequencing is reversed, coming from the ground upwards.
Fianna Fáil, and I am sure everybody in this House, is willing to work with the Minister of State to resolve this issue and to give him time to consider it. What is being proposed is badly needed to address the boundaries issue and land grabbing, so we need to retain the good aspects of it. It creates a plan for an area that would facilitate everybody.
It is just that I and my party had a major concern about the democratic processes, the structure of the committees and the power being given to them. In fairness, we are willing to work with the Minister of State and I acknowledge that he is willing to accept our amendments. We will facilitate any legislation he wishes to introduce in respect of this matter.