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Rising to THE CHALLENGE We spoke with Tipperary CEO Joe MacGrath about the challenges faced during the merger of the old North and South Tipperary local authorities, and what the future holds. Q: Looking back on 2014, was it a positive year in general for Tipperary County Council?

A: 2014 was a positive and very historic year for Tipperary County Council. The extent of the change successfully implemented in local government in the county in the past three years was greater than the cumulative extent of change witnessed since the establishment of county local government in Tipperary some 115 years ago. All of this was delivered by our own staff and has brought much cohesion to how we work and to the delivery of our services. In June 2012, the Tipperary Reorganisation Implementation Group completed and presented its Implementation Plan to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The plan mapped out the various steps that would need to be taken to ensure the successful delivery of the merger by June 2014. All of the objectives in that plan were successfully delivered within this tight timeframe. Not alone was the merger managed successfully but we had to take on board the abolition of seven town authorities and a Joint Library InBUSINESS | Q1 2015

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Committee by subsuming and merging their structures within the new single county authority. This occurred at a time of very significant change in the public service generally. The extent of the change has been very significant involving a unified management and staffing structure, implementing a new services delivery model, public offices reduction, reconfiguration of functions and the amalgamation of over 100 IT and financially-based systems. The change has been particularly challenging for the elected members of the Council with a reduction in the number of members in the county from 113 to 40.

Q: How pleased were you with Tipperary County Council’s receipt of the LAMA Council of the Year award, and what does it represent for you?

A: I am delighted that this award recognises the work and huge commitment by staff in delivering significant change over the past three years while continuing to assure delivery of our services right across the county without any disruption, and specifically the recognition

for our new website which was designed by our own staff. I am particularly pleased that this honour was conferred on the county by the representative association of Local Authority Members. This is the second national award received by Tipperary County Council since the merger following from the conferring on our fire services of the NISO Best Public Service Award last October.

Q: Are there any projects or initiatives we can look forward to seeing in Tipperary in 2015?

A: Our theme for 2015 which is the first full operating year for this Council is “Delivering for Tipperary”, with our corporate plan now in place and work well advanced on the first ever Local Economic and Community Plan for Tipperary. We are delivering on a number of projects with particular emphasis on town centre regeneration, the creation of new job opportunities with the Tipperary LEO and enterprise agencies and the establishment for the first time of a countywide tourism committee which has been

Joe MacGrath, Tipperary CEO

put in place to promote the unique Tipperary brand. Our recently prepared corporate plan challenges us to be “ambitious for our communities, demanding of ourselves and working to a shared purpose to deliver prosperity across the county”. While we recognise the challenge in this statement, we also look forward to 2015 and beyond in deepening the cohesion brought to the premier county by the merger and to working with our elected members and communities in realising our collective ambitions.


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