ALMOST €18,000 was spent on landscaping and garden maintenance at garda stations in Mayo in the past three years, new figures have revealed.
During the same period, 10 local stations have been closed as part of a rationalisation plan that has yielded annual cost savings of just €4,000 for every station that was shut, writes Darragh McDonagh.
A local councillor has criticised the spend as a poor use of resources and claimed at least some of the closures could have been prevented if money for gardening was diverted to frontline services.
Documents released by An Garda Síochána under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that it spent €17,520.36 on landscaping and garden maintenance services in Mayo between 2012 and 2014.
It was part of a total spend nationally of €525,410.25 on garden services at stations in 28 garda divisions.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Lisa Chambers questioned the government’s priorities in overseeing the closure of rural garda stations to save money while more than half-a-million euro was spent on landscaping and garden services.
“The figures show that 10 garda stations have closed in Mayo under this government, which equates to approximately €40,000 in savings annually. This does not take into account the cost of maintaining these stations if the buildings remain in the ownership of the state, which is thought to be in the region of €7,000 per property, per annum, so the savings are actually less.
“Compare and contrast this to the €18,000 spent on garden landscaping at Mayo garda stations during the period of station closures in 2012 and 2013 and you have to ask, does this government and the Minister for Justice have their priorities correct?
“It seems like very poor management of resources. We don’t have scope for mismanagement of resources.
“Less landscaping and more resources spent on front line services could have prevented the closure of at least some of the stations affected in Mayo,” said Councillor Chambers.