herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Council takes cold, hard look at Big Freeze errors

DUBLIN City Council is to establish a review group to examine errors made in its handling of the cold snap.

Last night's announcement follows concerns that the public suffered because of a "poor lack of communication" during the extreme weather and because of problems incurred as a result of water shortages nationwide.

Dublin's Lord Mayor, Cllr Gerry Breen (FG) said the review group would be formed in the coming weeks.

The group will seek to establish clearer guidelines for similar events in the future, Cllr Breen said.

However, despite Cllr Breen's concerns, he stressed that public transport officials deserved to be commended for their perseverance during the recent cold spell. Following the Lord Mayor's announcement, councillors argued that the general public suffered needlessly because Dublin City Council failed to make communications that, if made clearer, would have eased public concerns.

Cllr Kevin Humphreys (Lab) said the "review group will give Dublin City Council an opportunity to learn from mistakes because political negligence resulted in the city coming to a standstill twice".

Cllr Julia Carmichael (FF) said the public endured further complications as a direct result of improper communications on behalf of Dublin City Council.

"The council must invest in an awareness programme," she said.

"The ordinary person didn't know how to log on to the council website to check for updates. The council should invest in an awareness programme that will provide the public with key numbers in the case of an emergency," she added.

Cllr Breen admitted that more staff was necessary to deal with the "large volume of calls that became a big challenge in its own right" during the Christmas holiday period.

Though he argued that communications between council officials and the general public were much more efficient this year as opposed to scenes witnessed during last year's extreme weather conditions.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Lab) stressed that to prevent complications in the case of similar events in the future, Dublin City Council must build on community capital.

"We must take a much more imaginative route. The council needs to bring together communities and build on community capital.

"The general public acted greatly in their efforts to ease problems, and that's what needs to be recognised. Imagination is necessary."

Cllr Joan Collins (People Before Profit Alliance) said a continuous review must be accessed as a matter of priority.

"Communications proved to be an issue and need to be improved," she said.

Absence

"Simple measures like introducing snow tyres on public transport need to be looked at. Other countries operate using such measures, and we're certainly not a third world country."

Cllr Collins added that Environment John Gormley's absence during the cold spell did not help the situation.

She stressed that somebody "must be held accountable".

Councillors and experts will meet next week to discuss details of the new review group.

hnews@herald.ie

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