Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Derelict Site Grants.

220.

asked the Minister for Local Government the reasons for withdrawing derelict site grants; and if it is proposed to restore them.

I decided to wind up the derelict site grants scheme because I was satisfied that the scheme had largely served the purpose for which it was introduced, namely as an incentive to tidy up the more prominent eyesores throughout the country. I felt that the moneys hitherto made available for this scheme could be put to more positive and effective use if spent on the positive improvement of public amenities and community facilities. To this end, I announced last April that the derelict site grant scheme and the existing amenity grant scheme, which were administered out of the same allocation, were to be closed down, and that they would be replaced by a revised scheme of amenity grants. The revised scheme will come into operation at the beginning of the coming financial year, and one of the main features of it will be increased co-operation at local level between voluntary organisations and local authorities in the carrying out of works of public amenity and the improvement of community facilities. The administration of the revised scheme will be devolved on the local authorities.

I do not propose to restore the derelict site grants scheme. All applications received prior to my announcement have been dealt with and payment on foot of the grants allocated are being made in the current year. The winding up of the derelict site grants scheme does not affect the powers of local authorities to deal with such sites under the Derelict Sites Act, 1961, if they wish. Furthermore, if clearance of a derelict site is an essential part of a worthwhile amenity scheme, it can be embodied in any such proposed scheme.

What kind of advice would the Parliamentary Secretary give to a local authority with regard to a derelict site where ownership cannot be established, if the authority have not the Derelict Sites Act to enable them to take it over and landscape it or do whatever is necessary? What kind of legislation will enable the local authority to deal with such a situation?

The local authority can deal with the matter under the Derelict Sites Act, 1961.

I understood the Minister to say he was abolishing it.

He is abolishing the grants under the Act. The Minister indicated that all applications for derelict site grants received up to the time of the announcement would be paid. There is provision in the current financial year for payment for a tidying-up operation.