Council cuts costs on chamber revamp

by Gazette Reporter

THERE will be no new chamber built for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, despite the number of elected representatives increasing from 28 to 40 and a provision of €1m. Instead, the existing chamber where councillors gather to hold their meetings each month, has been allocated a modest refit for €59,000.
According to the council: “Works were carried out to the existing council chamber in order to accommodate the increase in the number of elected members – from 28 to 40. The costs of these works are €59,000, inclusive of VAT.”
When Minister for Local Government Phil Hogan announced that the number of DLR councillors would rise by 12, the council sought to build a new chamber to accommodate the increased numbers.
Last April, the council released plans for the construction of a new sky-room chamber within the existing structure of County Hall, which included inserting a floor in the central concourse area to create a chamber in the upper space, under the roof.
These plans proved contentious when put to public consultation in May.
Former councillor and minister for education Niamh Bhreathnach said at the time that council management should not go ahead with the new chamber building.
She was of the opinion that enlarging the existing chamber should be considered instead of that.
Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said: “The council abandoned plans to fork out up to €1m for a new rooftop chamber, so the option to make modest changes to the existing council chamber was agreed.”
“These changes cost less than €100,000 and included essential fire safety exits, electrical works and essential repairs and repainting.
“It would not have been right to have spent €1m during a time of austerity and business closures – the council recognised that fact.”
These works were absolutely necessary to facilitate 40 councillors – an increase of 12 as a result of Minister Phil Hogan’s reform measures.”
Cathaoirleach Marie Baker (FG) said: “We’ve taken the decision not to build a new chamber and we modelled the chamber we have to include the extra councillors.
“That involved a lot of wiring and things like that to make sure everyone has a microphone and adding in an extra desk for the extra councillors – everybody else got bunched up.
“In compliance with health and safety regulation, we have to put in a second extra door to the room next door so that in the event of an emergency, the chamber could be cleared safely.
“The total cost of that is €59,000, including cleaning up afterwards.
“So we’re not out here wasting money in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.”

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