What is Cost Neutral?
In 2008, Fingal County Council completed the building work on several changing rooms beside Malahide Castle’s much famed childrens playground. These facilities, built at the taxpayers expense remain virtually unused despite the huge investment by the local authority.
At a recent area committee meeting, the Council informed me that the facilities were unused because local sports clubs were unwilling to pay the €30 per match for the use of the changing rooms despite that fact that similar facilities elsewhere in the County charge the same and are being fully utilised.
The idea of the charge is to cover management, cleaning and other associated running costs of the facility. So, why is the facility empty?
Malahide Demesne is undoubtedly, one of the most welcoming, well served public parks in the country yet when it comes to the delivery of these services, the Council must provide them on a “cost neutral” basis. Some may remember these words sliding, effortlessly from Mary Harney’s lips when referring to the operation of the HSE.
Of course, the practicalities of cost neutral can work in certain circumstances but not it appears in this case.
My intention is to cajole one or both of the two players in this standoff. Either the Council drops the charge to a more reasonable level to facilitate the clubs (who didn’t ask for facilities in the first place) or firmly request that the associated clubs ensure that their containers are kept clean and presentable on an ongoing basis.
Regardless of the solution to the present impasse, the Council cannot recoup the cost of providing the facility if its not being used to its full potential.