Clare councillors are keen to have a greater involvement when it comes to the allocation of social housing within the county.
GDPR and national policy “has removed” the participation of local elected representatives in the housing allocation process. This prompted Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND), Cllr Paul Murphy (FG), Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF), Cllr Ann Norton (IND), Cllr Pat Daly (FF), Cllr John Crowe (FG), Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) and Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) to put pen to paper as they went about increasing the consultation on the tenancies.
In a proposal before the County Council, they flagged their input in the creation of housing policy and wanted greater recognition for the mandate given to them by their constituents “to be their representatives on issues concerning the public in Clare. Councillors are very conscious of the needs in their communities and their local knowledge needs to be embraced by Clare County Council Officials.”
Quarterly briefing sessions with Municipal District members are to begin in May, Director of Service Anne Haugh revealed in response. She explained that it will serve as a forum for engagement and information sharing between councillors and officials “on a broad range of housing issues including casual vacancies and forthcoming lettings”.
Councillors play “an integral part in communities and have valuable knowledge,” Cllr Flynn proclaimed of their role. He welcomed the positive response from Ms Haugh which has the possibility to “strength the partnership” between both parties.
Engagement is a step in the right direction, Cllr Daly affirmed. “We get more abuse from anyone because we didn’t get this house or that one and vice versa,” the Ennis native detailed. Cllr Crowe recalled, “We’re going to be the first ones to be approached and I think it is only right that we would have our meetings beforehand, going back through the years we always had that and there wasn’t a problem”.
“There is nobody who wants councillors to be sitting across a table and vetting who gets houses, we are looking for our local knowledge to be taken on board to come out with as good an outcome as possible for everyone,” Cllr Garrihy outlined. Cllr Nestor commented, “We are the people on the ground with local knowledge which is very important when houses are being allocated”.
Issues with housing are demonstrated by the level of input from councillors, Cllr Lynch maintained. He said they were “integral” to the workings of the County Council and highlighted the need for communication in their engagements with social housing applicants.