Time to bring back Town Councils

26 September 2018

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin TD has moved a bill today to bring back town councils, as the Dáil will later today debate the Local Government (Restoration of Town Councils) Bill in private members time.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Labour will today in the Dáil put forward a bill that provides a clear pathway for the restoration of town councils. I’m calling on all those who say they want to support our small towns to support our proposed law, and for the Government to move quickly to restore local democracy in Ireland with representatives closest to the people.

“Our towns are at the heart of our community. It’s where people meet, do their shopping, go to school, watch a match, and celebrate life’s big moments. Towns across Ireland are missing out on opportunities for economic development due to the lack of a local figurehead, such as a mayor, with the support of a democratically elected council that reflects all the views of the urban area.

“When we had town councils we knew where to go to get problems solved, from parking spaces, to the upkeep of streets and squares, and upgrades for our parks and cycle paths. Town councils also built houses, and knew best the local needs of what was needed where.

“Town-level local government can be more responsive to people’s concerns, quicker to react to issues and provides clear accountability in relation to money being invested to address local needs.

“The purpose of this Labour Party Bill is to provide a mechanism for the restoration of Town Councils in urban areas with a population of at least 5,000 residents, and 1,000 or more dwellings with a clearly defined urban centre.

“We want a Local Government Commission to consider and define each qualifying town. We provide that each Council would elect a minimum of 9 town councillors. For towns with a population over 25,000, 15 Councillors would be elected. There would be one local electoral area for each town.

“The new town councils would be a body corporate, and under our proposals a rating authority. Every enactment that applied to old town councils would be restored under our Bill.

“Our Bill proposes that the costs of restoring Town Councils will be met from existing resources.

“The abolition of town government as part of major reforms in 2014 was a mistake and it’s something we want to rectify. The needs of our towns are not being sufficiently met through the new arrangements that were introduced then. We need to restore strong local democracy.”

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