Offaly County Council continues to provide all essential services amid the Covid-19 crisis. Customer service staff in Áras an Chontae Tullamore and in the Municipal Districts of Birr, Edenderry and Tullamore continue to operate phone and email services. Following the announcement by An Taoiseach on March 12th, all of Offaly’s Libraries closed to the public but library staff are working and a whole range of services are available online from Offaly Libraries including supports for children and teens who are at home from school. There is also the facility to borrow downloadable ebooks and audiobooks through the ‘Borrow Box’ app.
Huge efforts have been made to equip Council teams to work remotely and to use new technologies to hold meetings and maintain services to the public should further restrictions limit the movement and interactions of people. In a statement Cllr. Peter Ormond, Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, said that ‘Councillors are available to the public to answer queries and source assistance. We are in regular contact with management and we are available by phone and email and can relay people’s issues and concerns to the Council.’
The Council is working with Irish Water to ensure the provision of water supplies to homes, hospitals, nursing homes and temporary emergency facilities. Civil Defence volunteers have been supporting HSE colleagues and the Fire Service is responding to calls as normal. Housing services continue to be provided while observing physical distancing guidelines.
Road maintenance and traffic services are being provided by the Roads Department and Municipal Districts and staff are working hard to resolve issues arising from recent severe weather events. Street cleaning and street enhancement work continues, as well as work on capital projects such as the Tullamore Community Arts Centre and new Social Housing developments. Environmental services are operating at Civic Amenity Sites. Motor Tax is available online. Other payments can be made over the phone or online via the Council’s website www.offaly.ie
It is anticipated that legislation may be required to extend timeframes around planning applications but the full range of planning services remain available including pre-planning advice, making a Planning Application, making submissions and observations and retrieval of files. A full guide to all planning services is available on the planning pages of www.offaly.ie
Council staff have placed notices at entrances to parks and playgrounds reminding people to adhere to the physical distancing requirements to remain at least 2 metres apart and not to use outdoor amenities that are already busy. There may be further restrictions on the use of outdoor facilities in the coming days if it is felt that guidelines are not being adhered to. In a statement, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney said ‘it is vitally important that people adhere to the Covid-19 warnings to stay local and not to congregate, particularly at public tourist attractions and walking trails. We recognise the importance of exercise, but please do so in accordance with public health advice.’