Co-ordinating Service Delivery in South Sligo
James Walsh, Administrative Officer, Sligo County Council talks about the importance of Tubbercurry’s ‘One Stop Shop’, Teach Laighne.
- James Walsh
Can you take us through the process of how the ‘One Stop Shop’ came to fruition?Teach Laighne in Tubbercurry opened its doors to the public of South Sligo in 2003. However, preparation and planning had begun much earlier. In October 1997 it was agreed at a meeting of Sligo County Council to make a submission to the Minister for the Environment to have Tubbercurry considered as a location for a pilot ‘One Stop Shop’ initiative. The fact that the application was successful was due to the quality of the submission made and also to the efforts of the local Councillors including former Councillor and Dáil Deputy Mattie Brennan.
A total of eight properties were acquired from seven different owners and construction commenced in 2001. Funding for the project came from a variety of sources including the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, An Comhairle Leabharlanna, Motor Taxation, the Court Services and a significant investment by Sligo County Council.
What hurdles had to be overcome?In determining a location for the project, a number of sites were considered. However, it was decided that the greatest impact could be made by choosing an area close to the town centre but which had been neglected over a long number of years for various reasons.
Quite a number of properties in Tubbercurry and particularly on Humbert Street did not have freehold title but were occupied on leases or in some cases sub-leases. This situation meant that property owners were reluctant to improve the buildings as they were unsure whether, following improvement, a claim might be made on their property by a third party of whom they were unaware.
By using the provisions of the Derelict Sites Act to acquire the properties, the Council were in a position to establish clear title and proceed without having the concerns of the previous occupants.
In providing this facility, what does it aim to achieve?There were a number of objectives in mind when this facility was first mooted. The obvious aim is to deliver from one premise a coordinated range of public services. In addition to having an Area Office for Sligo County Council, Teach Laighne also hosts the Community Library, Motor Taxation Office, Planning and Housing Clinics, Department of Social & Family Affairs, Sligo Citizen’s Information Service and FÁS together with the Environmental Health, Social Work, Family Welfare Conference and Community Welfare Departments of the Health Service Executive. The Courts Service also holds the monthly sitting of the District Court in the building on the fourth Wednesday of each month.
Would you agree that this investment in South Sligo has served as a catalyst to other important developments in the area?The venture has shown itself to be very effective in a number of ways. The Community Library has been the major player in introducing the facility to the general public and figures show that the Motor Taxation office for example is now handling approximately 20% of all the Drivers Licence and Taxation transactions for the county and is also processing all parking offence queries.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the scheme is the use that is being made of the building by voluntary and community groups from the area. In the design of the project two of the original houses were retained in order to preserve the streetscape and the ground floor of these is now used as a meeting/activity room by a wide range of organisations. These include such regular users as the local Active Age group, Gallagher House Resource Centre, Bridge Club, Chess & Draughts Club and Tubbercurry Women’s Group together with a host of other occasional users.
Other benefits have also followed as a result of this initiative; the building itself has made a significant improvement to the image of the town as it is approached from the Sligo direction, and other owners who have renovated premises which have enhanced the streetscape. A measure of the confidence being shown is the fact that 3 new business premises have opened within metres of Teach Laighne inside the last 2 years. The people of Tubbercurry and the surrounding areas now have a facility they are proud of and this was perhaps best illustrated when An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, who incidentally had turned the first sod some years previously, opened an Art Exhibition here in April 2005.
The appointment of an Economic Development Officer for Enniscrone and Tubbercurry should have a major impact in these areasGeraldine Timlin has taken up the post of Economic Development Officer for Tubbercurry and Enniscrone. Both these towns are seen as key support towns in the county, as between them they serve a wide hinterland, although they have not benefited from the economic boom of the 1990's. It is hoped that this strategic planning, in the areas of tourism and business, will elevate the towns to a more recognised platform. All strategies will be developed within the context of the County Development Board plan. Geraldine sees her role as ‘driving economic regeneration and tourism development by liaising with local business, the wider community, and statutory and non-statutory agencies in both areas’.
If you have any queries on the services provided at Teach Laighne please feel free to contact (071) 9111706.
- Tubbercurry Library, Teach Laighne
© Sligo County Council,
County Hall, Riverside,
Sligo, Co. Sligo.