‘Significant work’ undertaken to improve conditions at halting site in Cork

The halting site was the subject of a scathing report by the Ombudsman for Children last year. 
‘Significant work’ undertaken to improve conditions at halting site in Cork

The Spring Lane halting site pictured in 2017.

“Significant work” has been undertaken to improve living conditions at a halting site in Cork City, but there is still a “long road ahead” to make the site fit for purpose, according to a newly published report by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO).

Last year, the No End in Site report detailed an investigation by the OCO into complaints made by 11 families who were living on a local authority housing site.

While the report did not name the halting site, it later became apparent that the report pertained to the halting site at Spring Lane in Ballyvolane.

In the original No End in Site report, the OCO found that there was a persistent problem with rodent infestation; inadequate sanitation; extreme overcrowding; safety concerns about access to the site; illegal dumping nearby; inconsistent and inadequate waste disposal; inadequate heating systems; unsafe electrical works; a high rate of childhood illness caused by living conditions; a lack of safe play areas for children and housing applications not being progressed.

The report made ten recommendations relating to the site where 66 children and their families were living, all ten of which were accepted by the Local Authority.

Progress report 

A progress report by the OCO, published today, said significant steps had been taken by the Local Authority since the publication of the original report to improve living conditions for children and families living at the halting site.

Commenting on the update to the No End in Site report, which also does not name the halting site, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, said that there is “no doubt that significant work has taken place since No End in Site was published”.

“The Local Authority involved has prioritised both short and long term commitments they made in relation our recommendations, and this has resulted in better living conditions for many children.

“For example, there is now a caretaker working five days a week at the site to log and report maintenance issues, as well as a dedicated phone line for residents to log complaints.

“Four welfare units containing washing and toileting facilities, and two mobile homes have been replaced.

“Four mobile homes are expected by the end of this year and additional welfare units in the New Year,” he continued.

The Local Authority, he said, has also reduced the steepness of the dangerous overhanging cliff face and works on the footpath to provide a safe passageway for children walking to school are near completion.

Dr Muldoon said there is also “better administration of housing needs” by the Local Authority and that “disputes regarding credited time on the housing list are looked at favourably by the Local Authority where records and files are unclear or have not been kept”.

'Long road ahead'

However, he said there is still “a long road ahead” to rehousing families and making the site fit for purpose and that there are some families “who are not happy with what has been done so far” and who are unsatisfied with the pace of the progress to date.

He highlighted the need for “continuous open communication” to bring about further change.

“While we are satisfied with the work that has taken place over the past 12 months, our work here is not complete,” Dr Muldoon said.

“We will continue to engage with the Local Authority, and with families on the site, to drive further change that will benefit the children who live there.”

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