Water Services Funding

Questions (415)

Noel Harrington

Question:

415. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that he has received an application (details supplied) from Cork County Council; the date on which this application will be processed and funding granted for rehabilitating the water mains on an island and the relaying of 12 km of water main in order that an essential road restoration programme can be progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30158/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Substantial funding towards local authorities’ water conservation programmes is being provided under my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2013. Watermains rehabilitation is a key priority under the Programme which includes the County Cork watermain rehabilitation Programme valued at €23.21 million. My Department has not received a submission from the Council in relation to Cape Clear Island. I understand that the Council are preparing an application in relation to watermains rehabilitation works on Cape Clear Island and that this will be submitted to my Department shortly.

Commercial Rates Calculations

Questions (416)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

416. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to instruct local authorities to adjust commercial rates for businesses who can prove financial difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30159/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.

The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation for each property determined by the Valuation Office to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.

However, I am acutely aware of the pressures on small and medium sized businesses at the present time.  Local authorities have been asked by my Department to exercise restraint or, where possible, to reduce commercial rates and local charges for 2013 and have responded well to such requests in recent years. In 2013, 87 out of the 88 rating authorities either reduced their ARV or kept it the same as in 2012.

I will continue to keep the approach to rates by local authorities under active review, and am determined that every avenue will be pursued to optimise efficiency and contain costs in the local government sector.

Seniors Alert Scheme Issues

Questions (417)

Finian McGrath

Question:

417. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm the number of applications received for the seniors alert scheme in 2011 and the number of grants awarded. [30168/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Seniors Alert Scheme aims to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities by providing grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of equipment to enable older persons, without sufficient means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department. There were 1,081 applications received for the Seniors Alert Scheme in 2011, with 911 grants awarded.

Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report

Questions (418)

Barry Cowen

Question:

418. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he accepts in its entirety the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee report he received in May 2013; and if it will form the basis of the 2014 local election districts. [30184/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have accepted in full the recommendations in the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013 and I will be making the necessary local electoral area orders to give effect to these in due course. The local electoral areas specified in these orders, and the number of members to be elected for each electoral area, will apply at the 2014 local elections.

Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (419)

Robert Troy

Question:

419. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline the status of the Geraldine Hall Leader application for funding; the stage the application is at; and if funding will be made available for the project. [30204/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are 35 Local Development Companies (LDCs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) throughout the country. In line with the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development the LDCs are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Programme’s Operating Rules and EU regulations. My Department only becomes involved in a project once the Board of the LDC has approved it and the Board minutes are submitted to my Department for review.

The only exception to this is the requirement to seek final approval from my department in respect of projects that request funding of €150,000 or more. The assessment of these higher value projects usually involves detailed consultations between my Department and the relevant local development company.

The project referred to in the Question is one such project. The Department has sought further information from the LDC, County Kildare LEADER Partnership, and is awaiting this. Once the outstanding information is received my Department will be in a position to make a final decision.

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Questions (420)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

420. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when refurbishment is expected to start on the senior citizens complex in Ballygall Road East, Dublin; and if the funding problem Fold Ireland was experiencing has been rectified. [30239/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

This project has funding approval from my Department under the Capital Advance Leasing Facility since September 2012. It is a matter for the AHB to secure the remaining finance. Dublin City Council, the Housing Agency and my Department are continuing to liaise with the relevant Body in this regard.

Voluntary Housing Sector Issues

Questions (421)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

421. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the plans, if any, he has to change the criteria for buying out houses for voluntary housing groups such as Apex; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30270/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009, introduced a new approach to the sale of social housing whereby social housing tenants, including tenants of approved housing bodies, could acquire new local authority houses and existing apartments under the Incremental Purchase Scheme (IPS). The details of this scheme are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie.

There is no provision at present for the purchase of individual houses by tenants of approved housing bodies. However, my Department is currently in consultation with the approved housing body sector regarding the development of an enabling regulatory framework to support the expanded role for the sector as envisaged in the Government’s 2011 Housing Policy Statement.

In conjunction with the development of this framework, my Department will examine a range of issues around the long-term financing of the sector. The sale of existing stock to tenants is one of a range of options in this regard.

Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits

Questions (422)

John Browne

Question:

422. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the balance in the dormant accounts fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30300/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under the Dormant Accounts legislation, balances on dormant accounts with banks, building societies and An Post and the net encashment value of certain life assurance policies are paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF), which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency. The primary purpose of the legislation is to re-unite the original account holders with their moneys, including all interest due. In addition, the legislation also provides that disbursements from the fund may be made for charitable purposes or for purposes of community benefit.

The Net Value of Dormant Accounts Fund (uncommitted funds) at the end of May 2013 was €128m. Further details of all inflows, outflows and liabilities on the Fund can be found in tabular form on www.environ.ie in the Dormant Accounts section of the Community and Voluntary Supports area under the Community heading.

Local Authority Housing Issues

Questions (423)

Michael McGrath

Question:

423. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if local authorities are permitted to sell social housing units in order to fund the refurbishment of vacant social housing stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30313/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Local authorities are only permitted to sell social housing stock in specific circumstances such as where there is no longer a demand for the property and it cannot be let.  All such sales, except through a tenant purchase scheme, must be approved by my Department.  Monies generated by the sale of housing stock form part of local authority internal capital receipts.  Local authorities can use these monies through an approved programme of works which can include the refurbishment of vacant stock.

Local Authority Staff Remuneration

Questions (424)

Clare Daly

Question:

424. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of the gross lump sum, the gross severance gratuity and annual pension that will be paid to the Sligo County Manager when he retires from office later this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30325/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Local authority managers who held office prior to 26 July 2012, including the current Sligo County Manager, are entitled to be considered for superannuation benefits under Article 78(1) of the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998 to 2012. The particular benefits for an individual county manager are, in the first instance, a matter for his/her employer.

Topical Issue Debate

Questions (425)

Micheál Martin

Question:

425. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of Dáil Topical Issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of topical issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a Junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30340/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Since March 2011, 137 topical issue debates have been submitted to my Department and subsequently selected by the Ceann Comhairle for debate. Information in regard to the number of topical issue debates taken by me and Ministers of State in my Department is available in the Official Report of the Debates and published on the Oireachtas website. In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government these topical issue debates were taken directly by me, Minister of State O’Sullivan or Minister of State O’Dowd other than in exceptional circumstances where this was not possible.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (426)

Niall Collins

Question:

426. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total cost of ministerial transport in his Department in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date 2013; the number of drivers employed in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30552/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has spent the sums of €130,946, €168,083, €220,469 and €103,676 on ministerial transport arrangements for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 to date respectively. In line with Government policy, I do not use a state car. My Department has employed two civilian drivers since May 2011 for driving duties in my own car in line with approved arrangements, and their salary and subsistence costs, together with the mileage costs paid to me, are included in the above figures. The above figures also include similar costs, including the costs of two drivers, for Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan for 2012 onwards and for former Ministers of State Willie Penrose for 2011 and Michael Finneran for 2010 and 2011. My predecessor’s transport costs under the previous scheme of Garda drivers and State cars for the years 2010 and 2011 are a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (427)

Niall Collins

Question:

427. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total costs of photography incurred by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date 2013 in tabular form per event. [30568/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The details requested are set out in the following table.

Year

Event

Cost

2011

Irelands Best Kept Towns Ceremony

€932

2011

Tidy Towns national Awards ceremony

€600

2011

Meeting of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management

€302

2012

Launch of framework for Sustainable Development

€485

2012

Putting People First launch

€363

2012

Launch of CEDRA

€170

2012

Minister Jan O’Sullivan visiting NAMA properties leased to L/A, Scotch Hall, Drogheda

€172

2012

Long Service Awards for Fire Personnel, including cost of providing print copies to 200+ award recipients

€3,429

2013

EU Presidency: Informal Council of EU Environment Ministers - Clean Tech Cluster Forum and Expo, Wood Quay

€103

2013

EU Presidency: Senior Officials Meeting of Water and Marine Directors, Dublin Castle

€308

My Department’s Press Office generally provides photographic services when required.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (428)

Niall Collins

Question:

428. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the details and costs of any newspaper supplements his Department has been involved with in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30584/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has not been involved in any newspaper supplements from 2011 to date.

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection

Questions (429)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

429. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans regarding to penalties accruing on the non-principal private residence charge once the new property tax comes in; if he will agree to draw a line underneath the taxes accruing and not continue with excessive penalties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30663/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local Property Tax is being introduced on a half year basis this year and accordingly 50% of the Tax is payable in 2013. The Local Property Tax and Non Principal Private Residence Charge operate quite differently in many respects; the amount of Local Property Tax incurred in respect of a liable property is based on that property’s value, while the Non Principal Private Residence Charge is incurred on the basis of a flat rate of €200 per liable property per annum. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assume equivalence between the Charge and the Tax. This year will be the final year of the operation of the Non Principal Private Residence Charge. However, I expect local authorities to continue to work to maximise Non Principal Private Residence Charge compliance.

Local Authority Expenditure

Questions (430)

Barry Cowen

Question:

430. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total costs of the Fix My Street website to date; the number of incidents reported to the site per month and per county in tabular form; the number of resultant report forms per month and per county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30671/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I presume the question relates to the Fix your street.ie website, as the FixMy street website referred to in the question is a private initiative.

Fixyourstreet.ie was designed, developed and implemented by the local government sector with South Dublin County Council as the lead authority. All costs incurred in the development and roll-out have been met from within the resources of local authorities.

The website solution for Fixyourstreet.ie is fully open source, so that the local government sector is not subject to any licensing charges or fees. The platform is fully open at a technical level so any local authority, or technical partner, can interact at a technical level with the solution without additional cost or functionality. The cost of access to a single server supporting FixYourStreet.ie is approximately €50 per month (including VAT).

My Department does not maintain data on the incidents reported to the site. However, the Deputy may wish to consult on the matter with South Dublin County Council which maintains statistical information in respect of the initiative.

Register of Electors Issues

Questions (431)

Jim Daly

Question:

431. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is provision within the regulations which govern the creation of the electoral register to allow for a person who has changed gender and amended his or her name in the High Court under the deed poll law to reflect that change on the electoral register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30672/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The preparation and publication of the register of electors is a matter for each registration authority in accordance with electoral law. The opportunity to change registration details on the register of electors arises in November of each year when registration authorities publish a draft of the register which will come into force for the period of twelve months from the following 15 February. Any person wishing to correct their details on the register may do so by completing form RFA 1, which is available from registration authorities or to download from www.checktheregister.ie.

Departmental Funding

Questions (432)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

432. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30196/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department has been in touch with the Meath County Council, to which the grant in question is paid, and with the organisation referred to in the details supplied and a decision on funding will be taken as soon as possible.

Property Services Regulatory Authority Remit

Questions (433)

Barry Cowen

Question:

433. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has considered introducing a requirement that seller's packs including the certificate of title, engineers report and certificate of compliance with planning for all properties must be provided in advance of them being put on the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30244/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) was established on a statutory basis on 3 April 2012 in accordance with the provisions of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011. The legislation provides for the establishment of the Authority to licence, control and regulate Property Service Providers (PSPs), i.e. Auctioneers/Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Management Agents. The new PSRA licensing system came into effect on 6 July 2012.

I am advised by the Authority that its main priorities for the short to medium term are:

- Establishment of the new licensing system for PSPs;

- Setting and enforcing new standards for PSPs;

- Establishment of a system of investigation and adjudication of complaints against PSPs;

- Establishment and maintenance of the Compensation Fund;

- Maintenance of the Residential Property Price Register;

- Establishment and maintenance of a Commercial Leases Database;

- Maintenance of the Public Register of Licensed PSPs.

The Authority has further advised that the question of examining the feasibility of the introduction of mandatory "seller packs" cannot be considered until the Authority's main priorities listed above have been fully addressed. It might be noted that in the United Kingdom, "Home Information Packs" which were a form of mandatory seller pack were discontinued with effect from 21 May 2010.