Dún Laoghaire People Before Profit call for meeting of councillors to discuss Covid 19 and what needs to be done across the County
In a statement this morning Councillor Hugh Lewis, People Before Profit, said he will be attending an online meeting of councillors, including one rep from each party this afternoon to look at convening either an on location meeting with a reduced number of councillors or a digital meeting of all councillors in place of the April Council Meeting, to discuss urgent issues that have arisen as a result of Covid19.
Since the pandemic established itself in Ireland, the Council, as a political body has not yet met. The Council Executive has set up an emergency response team, made up primarily of various managers from different Council departments but “incredibly” does not include any councillors.
People Before Profit welcomes the Covid-19 Community Response Forum that is fully functional from yesterday and offers a one stop shop for community concerns and the vulnerable in their homes during this time of crisis.
However, there are many other issues that need to be discussed and resolved. Councillor Hugh Lewis will be insisting that democracy cannot be suspended as a result of the crisis, that councillors should be represented on the emergency team and that a full meeting of councillors should be convened, online, so that the implications of the crisis can be discussed.
Specifically, Cllr Lewis will be raising the issue of overcrowding in Homeless Hubs and Council accommodation, speeding up the processing of HAP applications for those in trouble with paying their rent, the potential to suspend parking charges, so that essential workers can use their cars, where possible, rather than travelling on public transport and will also seek reassurances that all council workers who could do their job from home or those who are vulnerable or live with a vulnerable person, will be accommodated.
Cllr Hugh Lewis said:
“Today at the online meeting of party leaders, I will make it abundantly clear that local democracy should not be put on hold for the duration of this crisis, as elected representatives we have a valuable role that is mandated by people to represent their issues. It is vital that we have a central role in decision making and I call on all the other councillors and Council management to schedule a meeting online that we can participate in and discuss the very real issues that are affecting all our communities”
“Specifically, I will be insisting that the Council work with the Minister for Housing to relieve overcrowding in the Homeless Hubs and in council accommodation. At the best of times, there are unacceptable levels of overcrowding in these kinds of accommodation, with more empty homes and hotels, available because of the crisis, the Council needs to be doing everything in its power to ensure proper living conditions to accord with best public health advice. We also need more staff allocated to sourcing new HAP properties and processing HAP applications for those who cannot pay their rent as a result of the crisis.”
“It is also vital with all the change in work practices, that are coming about because of the crisis, that council staff are facilitated to work from home. It is vital that the urgent supports that council staff are providing do not mean that why are not able to comply with best public health advice.”