At 6 am this morning (Thursday) Kilkenny County Council, with the assistance of An Garda Siochana, cleared and secured the site at Greens Bridge which has been the base for protesters against the bridge currently under construction as part of the Central Access Scheme.
“This action was necessary as the protesters had refused, despite repeated requests, since Monday last to vacate the site. The site has been secured against reentry,” a spokesman for Kilkenny County Council said..
The protestors have been at the makeshift protest area which has two tents for the summer and have cost the council €419,000 over and above the contracted sum of €4.14 million.
The extra costs, to mid-August, are attributed to private security on site, frustration of planned works, time delays, variations to programme and interruptions to site deliveries.
At a special meeting of Kilkenny County Council on Monday, Acting Chief Executive, Mr. John Mulholland, stated that the increased costs are unsustainable and there are no funding recovery options available given that the funding is being borne by Kilkenny County Council alone. Mr. Mulholland said that this represents a very grave situation for the finances of Kilkenny County Council and that the extra costs are entirely unnecessary and unwarranted.
A motion calling for work to be suspended on the controversial Central Access Scheme bridge was heavily defeated at a meeting of Kilkenny County Council on Monday by 17-5.
The councillors were questioning whether the appropriate consents, approval and funding were in place to begin works, and disputing that they were informed prior to the contract being signed on June 10 - before the council formally undertook to proceed.
Section 138 of the Local Government Act obliges the chief executive of a local authority to inform the elected members before any works of the local authority are undertaken or before committing the local authority to any expenditure in connection with the proposed works.
A report was presented to the meeting by the executive of Kilkenny County Council by acting CEO John Mulholland who stated that he was objecting to the motion on the grounds that the council will ‘incur a heavy financial loss should the works be suspended’.
He also strongly rejected the notion that the elected members were not properly informed as to the commencement of works of committing the Council to expenditure.
“Not alone am I satisfied that I have discharged my obligation under Section 138 of the Local Government Act, 2001, but I contend I have well exceeded the threshold of the obligation in so far as I have fully informed the Council of the progress of the scheme regularly since 2007.”