At October’s monthly Local authority council meeting, Cllr Joanna Byrne – Chairperson of Louth’s Strategic Policy Committee, opposed a motion put to the councillors worded:
“That this council supports a change in legislation which would grant the Chief Executive the power to evict council tenants (who are known to be causing frequent and extreme anti-social behaviour against their neighbours) on the word of a Garda Superintendent.”
Cllr Byrne pointed out that “there is a current Anti-Social Behaviour strategy with procedures of warnings before legal action to evict a tenant, this policy was drafted by the Housing SPC and adopted by the council. We also have a full time ASB Investigation officer within the county, both put in place to deal with the issues outlined in this motion.”
Commenting Cllr Byrne said:
“Whilst I recognise ASB is a contentious issue raised with Councillors on a daily basis, and it is an undeserved endurance for neighbouring tenants, I do not believe that this power should be given to any one person be it our Chief Executive or any other Chief Executive on other councils. These situations are the reason we have policies and procedures in place.”
Cllr Byrne said “Should the SPC need to review certain elements of this policy then that is what we will do. But it does not take away from the fact no God-like power with such severe consequences on families, which could include children, be bestowed on any one individual. We need a multi-agency approach with LCC, An Garda Síochana and other housing bodies all working together to tackle these issues. As pointed out by our Director of Services for Housing today there are currently only 172 ASB complaints on the system from a housing stock of 3975 in the county. 60 of these were unfounded complaints with no further action required so the need for a change in legislation in my opinion, at this given time, is unwarranted. We are there to protect the rights of all our constituents and work with and guide them to comply with Housing policies in place. Evictions are life changing decisions that will not only affect said culprits, but also their partners and children in most cases and should be only considered as an extreme last resort!”
Sinn Féin Cllr Joanna Byrne and Chairperson of Louth’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee is pleased that a controversial housing development on the site of the former Fire Station on Scarlet Street has got the green light from council members.
While some local residents are opposed to the development of 15 units, at a special meeting of the Borough District of Drogheda held yesterday afternoon following the County’s full council meeting they were told that a number of modifications were being made to help alleviate local residents concerns.
The building is being moved by half a metre further away from properties in Sienna and officials also said they can accommodate the boundary changes requested.
Cllr Byrne said: “I feel the right decision has been made to proceed with this project and was happy to push it forward. Whereas I have met with the residents in question and do recognise their concerns , the town of Drogheda is at an all time high with the level of applicants on the social housing list sitting today at 2215. We are the only district in the county with an increasing amount of applicants with mid-Louth and Dundalk both reducing in numbers. With only five live projects currently planned for construction within the town, one of them being this development in Scarlet Street the onus was on us as councillors to give this the green light and support the building of badly needed Social Housing.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has called on Louth County Council to address the growing trend of illegal dumping on St. Laurence’s Park Green.
Following complaints from several distressed residents of St. Laurence’s Park, Cllr Byrne brought the issue of a growing trend of illegal dumping in the estates green area to the attention of Louth County Council.
The recent weeks have seen the situation escalate from rubbish bags being dumped, which are in turn ripped to shreds by cats and dogs, but now people are physically wheeling their bins directly onto the green areas and emptying them. There is an increasing fear amongst residents that this rubbish will in turn lead to fires which could cause damage to the surrounding area.
After speaking to some residents over the weekend Cllr Byrne said
“There are a few areas of concern on this particular issue, there is of course the obvious issue of the eyesore of the dumping itself, the environmental implications of this action and also the risk of in time youths starting fires. The area involved is in the vicinity of a children’s playground and local children have the right to play in safety.
I have contacted the council and have asked them to act as a matter of great urgency and I am now calling on them to immediately tidy up this area as it is a main walk through between Moneymore and the St. Laurence’s Park & Drive area. I have also asked them to monitor this as ongoing situation before it escalates.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed a commitment from Louth County Council that will see an improvement in the upkeep of many of the historical areas around Drogheda town.
Cllr Byrne said “Sinn Féin have been in contact with LCC Operations Department for some months now demanding action especially coming into the tourist season. I can confirm that works will start next week.”
“The bottom of the Grove Hill area which is located just off the carriageway linking the north and south of the town has become an eye-sore for pedestrians and motorists alike. This area will be tidied up and weeded. There is a monument on that area to the Hunger Strikers which many tourists and residents like to visit including myself so I especially welcome that.”
With this being the height of our tourist season Joanna Byrne said “the grass areas around two beautiful areas of our town, Millmount and Magadeline Tower will also be tended to. The new maintenance contractor will commence work on Monday and we should see a significant improvement over the coming weeks. Drogheda is a gem in the eye of tourists and residents alike and this will go some way to restoring the town to its full glory”.
Following Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne’s queries last month at both the Municipal District and Louth County Council meetings, she noted that nothing has changed at this month’s meeting. Cllr Byrne had drawn attention to discrepancies and conflicting information in the housing report at the June meeting and then at the July meeting this morning, she again noticed it was a copy and paste effort that had not been updated.
Cllr Byrne said “I noted to the chamber that it was not only on paper the communication was lacking. I attempted to bring to their attention an extremely sensitive and traumatic case which exposed a total lack of communication between the Director of Services (DOS) for Housing and the senior Executive Officer (SEO) for Housing. “
While Cllr Byrne tried to bring this to the Chamber, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Louth County Council, Joan Martin attempted to prevent her from speaking.
Joan Martin slammed her for bringing this up at a public meeting and advised her if she had an issue then she should go to her directly. Determined not to be silenced, Joanna Byrne stood her ground and said “My point in raising this here this morning, if you would let me finish, is because I am calling for a commitment from the DOS for Housing that there will be more transparency and communication between him and the senior officials on his Housing Team. I don’t and won’t accept people playing cat and mouse with information, especially when it has such a significant impact on people’s lives”
There was no response from the D.O.S in relation to this commitment for transparency but the SEO has since sent written confirmation of the updated data that was originally omitted from the housing report printed on the agenda.
Cllr Byrne said “The reason I am pushing for this data to be accurate every month is because it is our guide as public representatives as to where we stand on a month by month basis with regards to social housing applicant numbers, up to date information on projects under construction and so on. It is imperative that is given to us correctly so that we are passing out the right information to our constituents. This morning’s outburst from the CEO and her attempt to prevent me raising my concerns just proves the lack of accountability within the organisation.”