Cork County Council staff shortage causing backlog of work to pile up in Macroom

Members of Macroom Municipal District Council were told that the town's appearance was suffering due to the lack of council workers.

Concubhar Ó LiatháinCorkman

An elected member of Macroom Municipal District Council has disclosed that local business owners were planning a meeting to discuss a rates strike due to an ongoing staffing shortage which is creating a growing backlog of work to maintain vital services in the town.

Cllr Ted Lucey was speaking during Friday’s meeting of the authority as he decried the fact that the Council only employed one worker to carry out tasks such as clearing drains, street sweeping and other tasks in the town.

The Fine Gael councillor told his colleagues and officials that a second worker had opted for another job but asked what would happen if the remaining employee took holidays or became ill and wasn’t at work.

He said that a recent litter inspection for a county wide competition resulted in a significant loss of points due to rubbish on the street between the Square and Chapel Cross. This was particularly distressing to the local Tidy Towns volunteers who, he stressed, were making every effort but that outcome was down to the fact there was only one Council worker.

"Tidy Towns are doing an awful lot of work in the town but they just can’t keep going like this – something has to be done, we have machinery but we have no one to use it,” he said, referring to the Council’s street sweeper.

Cllr Lucey’s proposal that the Council should send a letter to the Cork County Council Director of Services, Padraig Barrett, outlining the urgency of the situation received unanimous support from his colleagues.

He said the lack of workers was having a knock-on impact on surrounding villages in the Municipal District. “I’m talking about the town because we’re here in the town but it’s not fair on the villages either and the staff are being pulled here and dragged there.” he said.

Fellow FG councillor Michael Creed said that he was in agreement with his colleague.

“I’m blaming no-one but we are short staffed – one person here in town is not enough.

"If the Tidy Towns Committee stopped doing the work they’re doing for us, this town would be under desperate pressure.”

Cllr Michael Looney, representing Fianna Fáil, said the issue was wider than Macroom in that it impacted on surrounding villages but the fight to get staff would have to start in the Council.

Municipal District Officer Marie O’Leary said she would send an email to the Council’s Director of Services that very day but she added that not alone were there difficulties in recruiting people for such positions but that also, due to unavoidable bureaucratic delays, it would take weeks of back and forth communication to start the recruitment process.

Cllr Looney pointed out that, three or four years ago, when he first became a member of the Council, he had been told that staff recruitment wasn’t a matter for the councillors but that this response would ‘not be good enough anymore’.

Cllr Lucey intervened once more to disclose that two business people had told him they were going to call a meeting to pull their rates. “I know they have to pay them but that’s how serious the situation is becoming.”

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