Leitrim councillor again questions Council’s ‘abandonment’ of meetings

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Leitrim councillor again questions Council’s ‘abandonment’ of meetings

Cllr Des Guckian

Following on from last week's complaint about the postponement of all council and municipal district meetings due to the Covid-19 crisis, Cllr Des Guckian has again protested to the Council and said councillors should be consulted.
Leitrim County Council Chief Executive, Lar Power, last week wrote to all councillors and senior staff members outlining the measures being taken during the current crisis and looking for their support.
Mr Power, in his update, assured members that “in the interests of public health and the requirement to take necessary precautions to protect the public, our communities, and our staff from Covid-19, we are implementing all necessary measures and following Government / HSE guidelines and advice.”
Cllr Guckian said he was particularly concerned that all Council meetings and municipal district meetings have been postponed.
He described this as a threat to the independence and rights of councillors to make meaningful and sensible contributions and to challenge and question officials.
Now, he has reiterated those claims and while he acknowledged there is a serious health crisis, “we cannot afford to just freeze in terror.”
Addressing Mr Power, he said, “Ten days ago, I wrote to you protesting the abandonment of municipal and county council meetings.
“You have not replied , nor have you offered us any way of putting forward, publicly, the needs of our electorates.
“We need to know what you and your staff are doing. For a start, a weekly report from you to us would help. We must be consulted,” he stated.
Cllr Guckian asked Mr Power if he is “working to push forward policies that are simply implementing government and EU policies, but not in line with the real needs of the people we represent?”
He added: “To my mind, CEOs or County Managers have powers far beyond those of councillors. You need to exercise yours with great care and sensitivity.
“Now, more than ever, is the time to bring us on board the discussions.
“All councillors have some ideas to contribute. Policies have to be formed, not only for now, but for many, many years to come.
“I wish to make my contribution to that vibrant and worthwhile debate.
“It is not at all fitting that you and your staff should close down communications and make decisions on your own,” Cllr Guckian concluded.
Mr Power's update to all councillors outlined the measures being undertaken by the local authority.
He said they have established a business continuity crisis management team who meet on a daily basis to review and respond to issues as they arise. Every effort is being made to ensure business continuity across all services in so far as possible within the context of available resources.
Services remain operational, however, in order to limit contact and minimise the risk of spreading the virus we have taken the decision to restrict access to all Leitrim County Council premises.
“We are asking the public to engage with Leitrim County Council and access our services either online, by email or over the telephone with immediate effect. This measure is being taken to avoid unnecessary face to face interaction and facilitate social distancing as recommended by government guidelines.”