Writes Ciaran Dineen
An eye-watering €117,000 is currently owed to Cork County Council from unpaid derelict site levies in the Carrigaline Municipal District alone according to local Councillor, Marcia D’Alton (Ind).
Speaking at the July meeting of the district in County Hall, the independent Councillor brought forward a motion asking that Cork County Council would pursue derelict property owners for outstanding levy fees, noting that the issue has gotten way out of hand.
In her request Councillor D’Alton presented some startling background information which indicated that one derelict property alone has racked up a staggering €48,000 in unpaid levies, with the site in question appearing on derelict property lists as far back as 2011.
In a passionate statement on the matter she went on to say that “dereliction is the scourge of any town”, and that in some cases “these sites are physically holding back the development of the town”. Cllr D’Alton refrained from poking holes in the current derelict sites act and instead said that while she and others have often criticised it in the past, it may actually be more fit for purpose “if we actually used it”.
“It’s the key older buildings in the centre of towns that are just left there. They are a scourge on the businesses, on property owners, on Tidy Towns groups, on people who are busting their volunteering asses trying to make the town something, and the only people who have this piece of legislation that could help make these properties move is us, the County Council and we need to use it!”
In support of his colleague was Councillor Seámus McGrath (FF) who mentioned that this was an issue he sought to pursue when he was County Mayor back in 2016/17, saying that it is something that requires national change. Councillor Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) also lent his backing, querying whether it was possible for Councillors to be provided with a report or list that would highlight the properties in the district that had outstanding levy fees.
In response Senior Officer, Noelle Desmond agreed to raise the issue with the relevant Council departments and return with additional information on the list of properties on the derelict site register in the area, including whether the collected fees can be used for municipal budgets, in response to a question put forward by new MD Chair, Councillor Aidan Lombard (FG).