SPC 1 - Minutes

Minutes of Meeting of Strategic Policy Committee 1 – Housing & Corporate - held on Monday 12th October, 2020 at 10.00am. in The Council Chamber, County Hall, Riverside, Sligo


  • Councillor Arthur Gibbons (Chair)
  • Councillor Gino O’Boyle
  • Councillor Declan Bree
  • Mr Karl Kelly, (Business Pillar)
  • Ms Melinda Swann, (PPN Environment)



  • Mr John Moran, A/Director of Services
  • Mr Joe Murphy, Senior Executive Officer
  • Ms Orlagh Campbell, A/Senior Executive Officer
  • Mr Darren McGough, Civil Defence Officer
  • Ms Pauline Lavelle, Staff Officer
  • Ms Mary Farrell, Assistant Staff Officer



  • Ms. Pippa Black, (PPN Social Inclusion)
  • Mr. Pat Fallon, (Trade Union Pillar)
  • Mr Alan McMenamin, (PPN Community & Voluntary)



The Chair, Councillor Arthur Gibbons, welcomed all present. 

John Moran, A/ Director of Services and Covid Compliance Officer, set out the procedures to be followed at the meeting.  He informed the meeting of the updated safety processes that were required in order to hold the meeting under the Standard Operating Guidance.  This had been circulated to all members prior to the meeting and the details were noted.



Proposed by Councillor G. O’Boyle
Seconded by Councillor D. Bree


“To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee 1 – Housing & Corporate held on 16th July 2020”.



There were no matters arising from the minutes.



J Moran, A/Director of Services presented an updated report to the meeting, a copy of which was circulated.  He advised that notice was published in the Sligo Champion on 11th August, 2020 inviting expressions of interest in membership of the proposed Disability Consultative Committee from disability representatives and advocacy organisation/groups and persons with disabilities.  Details of all expressions of interest received were set out in the report with 6 nominees in total. 

A discussion took place on membership of the Committee and the expressions of interest received.  M Swann asked the meeting on behalf of P Black (PPN Social Inclusion) if there could be a mental health representative on the committee.  The matter was discussed and it was proposed by Councillor Bree, seconded by K Kelly, that the H.S.E. should be written to asking them to put forward a nominee who could represent mental health issues as part of the work of the Committee.  This was agreed.

Councillor Bree noted that Dr Jennifer Van Aswegen was no longer with the Disability Federation of Ireland and that Cathy McGrath is now the nominee put forward by the DFI.  He proposed that the nomination of Cathy McGrath, Project Manager with the DFI be accepted. This was seconded by Councillor O’Boyle and agreed.

Councillor Gibbons proposed that Mr. Pat Fallon be nominated as a member of the Committee as he had expressed an interest in becoming a member and he said that he would be invaluable to the Committee.  He is currently a member of the Board of Director of the Sligo Centre for Independent Living. This proposal was seconded by Councillor Bree, and agreed.

Having considered all expressions of interest received, it was agreed that Cathy McGrath, Michelle McCabe, Victoria Matthews, Peter Kearns, Clare Heslin, Pat Fallon and the HSE Mental Health nominee, be recommended to the Council for membership of the Disability Consultative Committee. J. Moran, A/Director of Services advised that this proposal would be put forward to the full Council at their next meeting.



J Murphy, Senior Executive Officer, presented a report which had been circulated to the members in advance of the meeting outlining the target of units set for delivery for the Council for the Housing Capital Programme, housing projects that are being advanced and housing schemes that continue to be progressed in 2020.  He said that the Council were very disappointed with the sum allocated under the Adaptations and Extensions to local authority stock and have sought additional funding.  He stated that funding received for 2020 represented a cut of over 30% from 2019. 

Councillor O’Boyle thanked J Murphy for the update and asked how many units the Council have purchased in 2020 and whether the Council will consider buying back stock in local authority estates.

J Murphy stated that no purchases have yet been completed in 2020, but that a number of units are currently at various stages of purchase. 

J Murphy also stated that it was the policy of the Council not to buy back local authority stock unless units were required for tenants with particular needs.  He stated that this is a policy that could be reviewed at these meetings.  It was agreed to put this matter on the Agenda for the next SPC1 meeting

K Kelly asked what the outcome was with regard to an advertisement that the Council had placed for ‘ready to go’ sites for social housing.  J Murphy replied that the council had received a number of applications and that these were currently being assessed. 

Councillor Bree thanked J Murphy for the report presented.  He expressed concern that funding received to date to enable delivery of unit targets under Rebuilding Ireland was not enough and it now appeared that Sligo would not be able to deliver on the specified targets before the end of 2021, as set out under Rebuilding Ireland. The target of units set for delivery for the Council under this programme between 2017 and 2021 was 384.  He was concerned because only 237 units had been delivered to date which left a shortfall of 147 units. He stated that this would reflect poorly on Sligo as a local authority and that this would need to be looked at by this SPC.  J Murphy told the meeting that B Gavin had previously stated that the targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland would be met by mid 2022. He added that this may even be difficult to achieve due to challenges around the covid crisis.

Councillor Bree asked when in 2020 the Knappagh Road units would be completed, and he also enquired if allocations would be made before or after Christmas.  J Murphy advised that it hoped that these units would be completed by the first week in December and that the units would be allocated to tenants by that time.

Joe Murphy outlined the background to the proposed housing development at Rathellen, Finisklin in response to a query from Councillor Bree.

Councillor Bree asked if Sligo County Council would consider the use of CPOs to acquire long term vacant houses in estates as approximately 20% of the housing stock is currently vacant apart from holiday homes and some have been vacant for a considerable amount of time.  He said that this could also help us to deliver on our Rebuilding Ireland targets.  J Murphy stated CPOs were not used as a method of acquiring vacant houses due to resourcing constraints.

On the matter of the reduced budget allocation for adaptations and extensions to LA stock, Councillor Bree expressed concern that the sum allocated by the Department to the Council was much lower than was sought by the Council with €672,415 sought, and only €251,499 was allocated.   He said that nationally there had been an increase in funding and he particularly highlighted people with disabilities.  He proposed that a letter issue to the Department to restore funding in this area to 2016 levels.  The following motion was submitted:

It was proposed by Councillor Bree
Seconded by Councillor O’Boyle

‘that this meeting expresses its alarm with the Government decision to further slash the funding made available to Sligo County Council for the Disabled Persons Grant Scheme for Council tenants, and we support the call of the Council to have the funding/grant restored to its 2016 level.  In addition, we recommend that the Council seek a meeting with the Minister for Housing and Local Government so as to present Sligo’s case for a restoration of the grant aid’

The motion was agreed by the members.

J Murphy stated that the Department has been asked by the Council to review the 2020 allocation to Sligo but that this had not happened to date.

M Swann queried the amount of €251,499 allocated by the Department under Adaptations and Extensions to local authority stock.  She queried if funding for housing could include costs such as flood risk assessments, drainage systems and other environmental measures in line with eco strategies which would save money in the long term.  J Murphy stated that for purchase of units, funding would be in relation to the purchase only but for new builds, flood risk assessments etc would be part of the planning process.

M Swann asked if all funding for housing came from the Housing Department or if any funding was received from the Department of the Environment.  J Murphy stated that as far as he was aware all funding for housing projects comes from the Department of Housing and Local Government.  M Swann stated that there needs to be a holistic approach when housing budgets are being prepared as providing housing now means an increase of awareness of bio diversity, e.g. providing green spaces in estates.  Councillor Gibbons said that this was something that the Council should look at and it was agreed to ask the Senior Architect Sean Martin to speak on this matter at the next meeting.

K Kelly asked if it was within the remit of the Strategic Policy Committee to look at the availability of private housing or if there was any way that developers could be helped or guided when buying or building.  He also asked if it was within the remit of the Committee to look at providing housing for the elderly. 

J Murphy replied that the issue of developers providing private houses in Sligo is in the main a planning issue.  He said that housing for elderly could be put as an item on the agenda for a future meeting of the Committee.

K Kelly also expressed concern that there is a lack of 1 bed units in Sligo town and asked whether developers could be encouraged to build more of these in the town.  J Murphy replied that there is an issue with one bed units which has been raised with developers.   He said that the cost of delivery of one bed units is quite significant and that it is more profitable for developers to build 2 or 3 bed units.      

Councillor Bree stated that the Dept has provided funding for 1 bed units through the Capital Assistance Scheme to voluntary housing bodies and queried why such funding cannot be provided directly to local authorities rather than through the voluntary sector.



Councillor Gibbons noted apologies received from members unable to attend the meeting and asked that consideration be given to enabling members who cannot attend in person to join the meeting remotely by video conference.



The next meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee 1 – Housing & Corporate - was set for Monday, 7th December 2020 at 8.45 am prior to the Ordinary Council Meeting.


The business of the meeting concluded at 10.55am.


Meeting Date 12/10/2020