Naas Town Council recently proposed to request an additional 3 seats from the Minister for Environment, bringing its compliment up to 12 councillors. Under the Local Government Act 2001, any town with a population in excess 15,000 may do so. Similarly any town with a population in excess 7,500 may request the creation of a town council, if one does not already exist.
The town clerk requested any interested parties make a submission and being one I did. Please find below:
“Dear Town Clerk,
RE: Proposal to increase number of seats on Naas Town Council from 9 to 12
As you will be aware, local government has its origins in the former British legislation, Local Government Act 1898, which established councils on the basis of then population centres. For the most part those entities have remained largely unchanged ever since despite the obvious population shifts in the meantime.
This has led to a situation where towns of miniscule population (ref Ballybay, Co. Monaghan population 401; 2006 census) have councils whilst many larger towns (ref Kildare town population 7538; 2006 census) do not.
Furthermore whilst local government was recognised constitutionally via the twentieth amendment in 1999, the amendment does not stipulate any minimal ratio of councillors to seats as is the case in Dáil constituencies.
In my view this is a great omission as numbers vary hugely and disproportionately between towns of the same status leaving constituents under represented and councillors over stretched in many cases.
Clearly the precedent exists for 12 seat town councils as the comparable towns of Bray, Dundalk and Tralee demonstrate, Tralee in particular being actually smaller than Naas per 2006 census figures (Tralee 20,288; Naas 20,444).
However I would favour retaining a single constituency rather than dividing into wards as the town is not geographically distributed enough to justify sub-division and I would regard that as an artificial and unwieldy division.
In summary I support the proposal and I commend the council for being proactive in addressing this.
Is mise le meas,
An Rúnaí Oinigh/Secretary
Sallins Cumann Fianna Fáil”