The coming weeks will see the gradual transfer of powers from the borough council’s City Hall headquarters to the county council at County Hall.
Shortly, the borough’s planning function will be combined with the county council’s planning function. This means that members of the public wishing to discuss a planning issue or examine a planning file that relates to the borough area will soon have to go to the office at County Hall.
The changes are being made now to assist with the orderly transfer and/or coordination of services to the public, with the abolition of borough and town councils on the way. It follows the recent publication of the 2013 Local Government Bill, which will create 31 single-tier local authorities in Ireland from the current 114 councils.
Under the draft proposals, Kilkenny will have one local county council with 24 seats after May 2014, following the borough council’s abolition.
Thomastown-based councillor Michael O’ Brien (Labour) says that a whole range of outdated legacy rank and status issues inherited with an 19th Century system will now be addressed, after decades of false political promises of reform by successive Governments.
“This will correct the urban/rural divide in Kilkenny, strengthen local democracy by its increased population critical mass, and lead to a fairer, focused and more equitable distribution of resources for essential public services to benefit all Kilkenny people,” he said.
Cllr O’ Brien, who is deputy leader of the Association of County and City Councils, was speaking after the launch and briefing in Dublin of the Draft Bill by Minister for the Environment and Local Government Phil Hogan. He said that Minister Hogan should be commended for having the courage to take on such a fundamental institutional challenge and to leave his public interest mark on his term of office, however politically unpopular that might be for him.
Cllr O’ Brien has been a member of the Association of County and City Councils Working Group, which has been advising the minister and his Department over the past year on the new Bill.