JUST when it seemed like the county had accepted the privatisation of Mayo County Council’s refuse service, three Castlebar councillors could force the authority into a major u-turn.
Cllrs Michael Kilcoyne, Johnny Mee and Noel Campbell served a rarely-used ‘section 140 notice’ on the Director of Services, Ray Norton last week, a move that could force the Council to retain the service which was due to cease on January 5 next.
In their letter to Mr Norton, the councillors say the Council should continue to provide a refuse service in Castlebar. They also want the Council to provide the necessary funding to ensure that the service can continue to operate in 2007, while they have also requested that the waiver system for the elderly continue. They have sought a special meeting of the Council on January 2 to force a vote on the issue.
However, town Mayor, Brendan Henaghan feels the councillors have left if ‘far too late’ to issue a section 140.
“I think the majority of the public have already made arrangements for replacing the Council’s refuse service and, in my opinion, the three councillors are merely playing politics at this stage,” stated Mr Henaghan.
Castlebar Town Clerk Marie Crowley confirmed to The Mayo News that they received the section 140 but would not state if it has any legal standing or if a meeting will take place on January 2.
If the meeting gets the go-ahead, it would take a two thirds majority of the councillors to pass the section 140 and order Mr Norton to retain the bin service.
From previous comments on the issue, it would appear that Cllr Blackie Gavin would support the three councillors in their stance, while Cllr Aidan Crowley and Cllr Sean Bourke seem likely to support the executive’s decision.
This would mean that the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the three Fine Gael members on the Council, the aforementioned Mayor Brendan Henaghan, Vice Mayor Eugene McCormack and Cllr Kevin Guthrie.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said he felt his ‘hand was forced’ in relation to the issuing of the section 140 and he was delighted that Cllr Mee and Cllr Campbell supported his stance.
“We have not taken this decision lightly, but we feel that this service can still be run successfully in Castlebar, as it has done in Galway City, independent of the rest of the county. Section 140 was specifically included in the act so councillors – the elected representatives of the people – can have a direct say in the running of a council,” he said.
“Enough of our services have already been privatised already and here is a real opportunity for councillors to make their voices heard,” added Cllr Kilcoyne.
Meanwhile, a dispute between SIPTU and the Council over the jobs of refuse lorry workers has been referred to the Labour Relations Commission. The Council wants to redeploy the workers to other services.