O’Brien lauds positive ‘people power’ with 500k library allocation

4th November, 2015

I would like  to take the opportunity to praise the community effort in Skerries after the allocation for works in Skerries library was expanded dramatically from €100,000 in June 2014 to €530,000 euros. 

Last November I ran a comprehensive campaign in Skerries asking people to contact the county manager to urge him to open a public consultation process on the money allocated for works on Skerries library. This was following on from a public meeting I held earlier that year on Participatory Budgeting – an innovative form of community development, democracy and fund allocation that is practised widely in the UK.  I was delighted when the Council decided to run a public consultation on what people wanted to see in their library earlier this year.  I further promoted this consultation process.

The people of Skerries have responded in force to this public consultation and have sent a clear message to Fingal County Council. I am delighted to say that Fingal County Council received 247 inputs into the public consultation on Skerries library. But of course this is not the big news. The Fingal County Council capital plan that has been recently published has shown a huge increase in the money allocated to Skerries library up to a figure of €530,000. This is a real tangible example of positive ‘people power’. I hope now the Council will now seriously consider running a full Participatory Budgeting process. It is clear from the response to this public consultation that people are keen to have a say in how their money is used by the Council. Hats off to the people of Skerries and to the Council for reciprocating the community commitment!

I will now work to ensure that this allocation is follow through on over the coming the years and that we have a library that will do justice to our town. I am delighted to say that the allocation allows for expansion of the current building and refurbishment of the interior which combined should significantly increase the capacity of the library and make it an even busier hive of community activity.

The following is the relevant excerpt from the recently published Capital Plan 2016-18:

Refurbishment of Skerries Library

A provision of €530,000 has been made and this expenditure will be funded from revenue provision.  Skerries Library is a Carnegie building which first opened in 1911. It is a two story structure with a cut stone front façade. The Library has undergone very little refurbishment or enhancement over the years. The fabric of the building is in good shape with many original features still intact. The upper floor is currently not suitable for use by the public. The Library currently serves a population of 9,671 and it is well used by residents of the town and surrounding areas. A recent survey on the proposed refurbishment of the Library attracted 247 responses. 74% of those who responded said they would like to have a more comfortable leisure reading area in the refurbished library and 48% said they would like to have more study desks. The refurbishment is likely to be carried out in two phases. The first phase will involve the internal remodelling of the ground level and the renovation of the upper floor. The second phase will be a small extension in the garden area at the back of the building.