A special meeting of Mayo County Council will take place at the end of next month (February) to discuss the action plan that council management has in place to ensure that the authority does not again have to hand back monies allocated from government for projects in the county not completed, and pay penalties for failing to comply with the rules of a funding scheme.
The matter was raised at the start of today’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council held online.
Last month, (December 2021) it was revealed that the authority had to return €1.1 million in capital funding to the Department of Rural and Community Development for a failure to finish and, in some cases, even start works along the Clew Bay Greenway.
A further 160,000 euro in penalties has to be paid for a number of other projects in the county where the council failed to comply with the conditions of the dept funding scheme, known as the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
The amount of funding lost to the county as a result, was widely condemned by elected members of MCC when details of the errors were revealed by Council Management last month. The matter was again raised at the start of today’s meeting, after council management had provided a report, in recent days, to councillors on what had occurred.
The funding debacle in the county came to light following an external audit by the Dept of Agriculture in 2019 on Mayo County Council’s accounts.
The CEO of MCC, Kevin Kelly has admitted that a number of issues arose over practice and procedures concerning funding that had been allocated to the authority in 2019 under scheme. Under the scheme no monies can be drawn down until the projects are completed, however, Mayo County Council got it the wrong way round and drew down the monies without completing the projects in some cases, and not having started them in other cases.
In total there were ten projects involved, six of these were started but not completed and the dept has agreed that it will allow the funding to stand, pending the projects being completed early 2022. It will however, impose a fine for the mistake of 160,000 euro.
In the case of the other four projects, all related to works on the Clew Bay Greenway, since no work had begun, the monies 1.1 million must be returned in full.
The TII (Transport infrastructure Ireland) has taken over the development of a number of greenway projects, including two in Mayo – the Clew Bay Greenway and the Castlebar to Westport Greenway.
Today, Mr Kelly said that 2.5 million has been allocated by the TII for the Clew Bay Greenway this year.
Councillors raised a number of questions at today’s meeting about what went wrong in 2019 under the Outdoor Recreation infrastructure Scheme and are insisting on more detailed responses from council management to be available by next month, when the action plan to ensure a repeat of this situation does not occur, will be put before councillors.