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Councillors' legal bid to halt bins plan

Dublin City councillors have vowed to seek legal action over the council's decision to privatise its bins service.

The revelations were outlined at a council meeting last night following announcements that council officials had begun the process of seeking potential bidders to take over the waste service.

Council manager Seamus Lyons told how a "number of bidders" had been lined up and were "open to discussions" about taking over the service.

In response, furious councillors described the manager's financial report, based on the waste service, as "erroneous" and "misleading". They argued that under no legal terms does the council have a right to sell its assets against their will.

Cllr Marie Metcalfe (Ind) accused the council of "throwing elderly people and social welfare recipients against the wall".

She said the decision to privatise the service would be met with more objections and that councillors would be forced to vote against the next budget.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Lab) said she has received a "serious number of complaints and concerns" from locals "terrified" that the waiver system would be removed.

"There are 44,000 people in receipt of waivers.We should be running this council in favour of the public by maintaining the proper care of our basic services," she said.

Councillors argued that Dublin City Council "has no right to auction" its assets to private bidders.



Obligation

Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick (FF) said: "We have an obligation as representatives to stand up for ordinary people.

However, Fine Gael councillors accused her of "trying to gain publicity from a controversial issue".

City manager Seamus Lyons said the tendering process would cease this week after a bidder was agreed.

"The service is no longer down to local authorities. We are not tendering for a contract but we will negotiate the best deal and decide on that basis. There is simply no way we can maintain these costs."

He said he would write to the Government to outline the need for a waiver scheme.

However, speaking about the threat of legal action on behalf of councillors he said, "That is not our issue. We don't have the money to wait around to see what happens."

Mr Lyons signalled that the service would be privatised on December 5 despite councillors' objections.

hnews@herald.ie