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Stanley queries costs of renting properties for Decentralisation programme

19 April, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley criticised the cost, quantity and location of various buildings being rented by the State as part of the decentralisation programme.

Deputy Stanley said the Government has spent €12million renting offices in Laois in various unsuitable locations for the decentralisation project.

He said:

“I wish to discuss the important matter of the number of buildings the State is renting or leasing as part of the decentralisation programme. This is of particular concern in my own constituency of Laois/Offaly where there are approximately six buildings currently being rented or leased by the Department of Agriculture as part of the decentralisation programme.

“In October 2010 the then Government provided details of the premises leased in Portlaoise which accommodate 317 Agriculture staff, as well as Equality Tribunal Staff. Further information was provided to the effect that the State was paying €191,000 to rent the old Eircom building, €264,640 to rent the Grattan Business Centre and around €210,000 to rent units in the Gandon Court Fair Green. Some of these have 20 year leases.

“Some of these locations are in wholly unsuitable locations such as one over a chipshop, another over a pub, another is located over a supermarket, another is located in a warehouse in an industrial estate, and yet another is located in an old Eircom building.

“The office above the chipshop is in several small apartments and is totally unsuitable. This has led to a fragmentation in services and the operation of the Department is totally chaotic.

“We are all well aware of the penalties being suffered by businesses due to nature of upward only rent reviews at the moment. Will the Minister tell the House if this is the case for the State and if so, what he proposes to do about it? These rents are substantial. Has there been any negotiation regarding the rents?

“The Government has spent €12million renting offices in Laois for the decentralisation project. What moves have been made to secure permanent accommodation so that the State is not funding private landlords at the expense of the taxpayer when they have already implemented a severe range of cutbacks. It is unacceptable.

“Will the Minister also give a commitment to ensure that any project that is proposed will not be done using public-private partnership? This has been shown to not give value for money to the taxpayer.

“The previous Government stated that a new headquarters for the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise would take two years to build. An update needs to be provided on what’s happening with this.

“A site has been purchased for around €1m and now lies idle. Will the Minister provide an update on this?” ENDS

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