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Housing

MacManus Calls for No Rent Increases. (Feb 4th 2013)
 
Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has proposed that Sligo County Council would not increase the rents of Council tenants in 2013 because of the introduction of the new property tax.
 
Speaking at this month’s meeting of Sligo Co. Co. Councillor MacManus said;
“We are all aware of the new Home Tax introduced in last Decembers budget and of the serious financial pressures which it will impose on many families who are barely making ends meet in this current recession.
 
However, an overlooked part of this home tax sees the government making local councils liable for such a charge on the local authority houses which they own. In the recent estimates adopted by the ruling parties on Sligo Co. Co. no reference was made as to how this council could meet this tax. Indeed when some of us raised this matter the Co. Manager indicated that he had yet to receive notification from the Department about the matter.”
 
“Since then it has become clear that this tax will be imposed by central government and I am now asking that the Co. Manager refrains from passing on this charge to council tenants in 2013. I am basing this request on the financial hardship already mentioned and also on the fact that the Fine Gael/Labour/Independent Labour members have already slashed the maintenance budget for such council owned houses.”
 
“How could this council contemplate raising the rents of hard pressed tenants, many such as pensioners who are reliant solely this small income and those on social welfare, while at the same time reducing the level of service provided to those tenants? If this were happening in the private sector there would be an outcry and rightly so. How can a local council, which has a moral responsibility to our tenants, try to pass on this tax to those tenants?
 
Instead, this council should be in urgent contact with the Department outlining the unjustness and unfairness of this tax and seeking an exemption from it. After all, those who are introducing this home tax claim that the purpose of the tax is to fund local government services. How then can such council services be enhanced by increasing rents to council tenants who are having the maintenance of their homes reduced?
 
Sinn Fein have opposed and will continue to oppose this home tax as we believe that any such tax should be based on wealth and ability to pay. However, recognising that the Fine Gael/Labour Government will force through this measure in June it is imperative that we put a brake on this charge been imposed on our council tenants.
 
I ask all members to support my proposal.” 
 
 
MacManus Seeks Council Unity Against Water Charges (Feb 4th 2013)
 
Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has called on all parties on Sligo County Council to unite in opposition to the new Government Water Services Bill. Speaking at this month’s meeting of the Co. Council Councillor MacManus said;
“The recent publication of the Water Services Bill 2013 confirms the intention of this government to charge all households for domestic water from 1 January 2014.
 
The bill is fundamentally flawed in its content. It establishes Irish Water as a subsidiary of An Bord Gáis Eireann, a company which this government have said they intend to sell off.
 
This new company will be given power to install water meters and charge families for the water they use. This charge means the public will be paying three times for the water they drink. Firstly in their general taxes, secondly through this new charge and finally they will pay through the National Pension Reserve Fund which will be used to fund the installation of water meters”.

“Furthermore, the incoming legislation allows Irish Water to access information on householders from sources including the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection, local authorities and the Private Residential Tenancies Board. This is clearly in breach of privacy and civil liberties. It also gives powers to Irish Water allowing it to be exempt from seeking planning permission to lay water pipes. But most worryingly it gives it 'power to interrupt water supply'.

“The installation of water meters will prove to be costly and totally inefficient. Experts including the Irish Academy of Engineers and the Local Authority Professional Officers have given estimates of up to €1.2 billion to cover the cost of the installation. Meanwhile in England, private companies are still attempting to install water meters twenty years after water charges were first introduced. The European Commission has also criticized progress saying “the roll out of meters is likely to take years”.

This bill has nothing to do with water conservation and everything to do with taking more power away from local authorities, centralising it in the hands of government and preparing for the full privatisation of our water service”.

“Sinn Féin has actively campaigned against water charges and we will be redoubling our efforts now that this bill has been published. Hard-pressed homeowners are already crippled by the economic mismanagement of this and the last government. They are dealing with unemployment, cuts to public services and the increased financial burden that goes along with the many new taxes and charges that have been imposed, the latest of which being these proposed water charges.
 
 “This government is totally out of touch with the reality facing citizens every day and it is nothing short of outrageous to expect people to pay, not once but thrice, for a basic human need such as water.
“The contents of this Bill are unfair and undemocratic and should be resisted by all parties on this Council” Councillor MacManus concluded. 
 
Will Co Sligo Applicants Benefit from Vacant NAMA Units? --- MacManus (Nov.2012)

Councillor Sean MacManus has called on the Co. Manager to confirm if any social housing units will become available to Sligo Co. Council from the NAMA company established to investigate the suitability of vacant property’s owned by NAMA.
 
“At present there are about 510 applicants on the housing waiting list of Sligo Co. Council, many of whome are families in urgent need of social housing, there is also close to 700 on the Borough Councils waiting list.
Given the glut of vacant and unfinished housing scattered across this state it is easy to recognise that this is a scandalous situation facing these families.
 
Mindful also that this government and its predecessor have not sanctioned the building of any new social housing anywhere in the state over the last 4 years then we can clearly see the true depth of this failure of responsibility.”
 
“Last July a new company, NAMA Asset Residential Property Services Ltd (NARPS) was set up to obtain from NAMA debtors vacant properties deemed suitable for social housing. So far it appears that up to 3,800 potential properties have been identified. The intention now is to lease these properties to local authorities and housing associations.
 
Therefore I am now asking the Co. Manager to outline to members of Sligo Co. Council what engagement has so far taken place between this Council and NAMA Asset Residential Property Services Ltd in relation to securing such housing units in Co. Sligo.
 
We need to know the number, if any, type and location of such suitable units in Co. Sligo. We also need to be told when they will be available to those in need, the costs accruing to this Council and details of all correspondence between Sligo Co. Council and NARPS relating to this issue.” 
 
 
 




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