No County Hall staff to deal with neighbour complaints

No County Hall staff to deal with neighbour complaints
County Hall. Pic Denis Scannell

COUNTY councillors have called for more staff in the local authority’s estate-management department, because mediation is ongoing in 192 of 444 anti-social behaviour complaints received in the last three years.

Two estate-management liaison officers covered 3,200 homes in east Cork, Ballincollig-Carrigaline, Macroom and Glanmire, but both have now retired, and only one has been replaced. The second staff member retired in early December.

“I find it astonishing in an area that is so important and which the council has almost full control over. It wasn’t anticipated that both of these people would be resigning and their positions were not filled on the day of their retirement,” said Sinn Féin councillor, Des O’Grady. “This is an issue that has fallen through the cracks and the reality, out there, is that the number of complaints is slightly up on last year, but the ongoing number of complaints is up 169%. The number of complaints closed is just 13 (9% of total complaints received). That’s a huge fall,” he added.

In 2016, 137 complaints were received and 84 cases were closed, while, in 2015, 119 of 168 complaints were closed.

Estate-management liaison officers attend pre-tenancy meetings and provide mediation, obtain Garda Pulse checks, issue notices to attend court, deal with breaches of tenancy – including unauthorised occupiers and abandoned properties – set up and support residents’ associations, instigate policy reviews, and represent the council on policing committees.

Mr O’Grady said that extra staff are desperately needed, including clerical staff and one extra officer.

In 2017, two houses were repossessed, due to complaints, compared to seven in 2016 and 12 in 2015. While no court proceedings were taken in 2015 and 2016, two have been recorded this year, but County Council deputy chief executive, Declan Daly, said this was always the last course of action in an anti-social behaviour case. He said staffing was a matter for the executive of the local authority.

In the city, just nine executive housing officers cover 9,000 homes. Councillor Thomas Gould (SF) said there should be one housing officer per 400 people.

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