LAOIS VEC management is “optimistic” about moving into the St Mary’s CBS building by September, despite the fact that talks to lease the former school from the Christian Brothers have been held over value for money.
Agreement has yet to be reached on the length of the deal to lease the building for adult education. Laois VEC plans to spend €150,000 on the building and are looking for a six year lease, the terms of which is being worked out between solicitors for Laois VEC and the Christian Brothers. This is longer than what had been provisionally agreed.
“It is between the legal teams who are trying to draft a lease to meet their needs and our needs,” said Laois VEC CEO Anne O’Keeffe. “We are looking at a six year lease which would justify our spending on the building, but they want a four year lease. We want to have the building ready for the academic year next September, and we need to bring the building up to spec”.
A deal appeared to have been done in April and work was due to begin on the building in May with builders already lined up. Ms O’Keeffe told the committee at this month’s Laois VEC meeting that the VEC is not allowed to communicate with the brothers.
However, she remained optimistic that the VEC would secure the building.
“I would be optimistic that it will work out but it takes time. It matters whether we get a four or a six year lease, we have to get value for our expenditure,” he said..
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Willie Aird said that “it is very disappointing that we’re haggling over this building. Laois County Council has been instrumental in the protection of the usage of buildings. We’re finding it difficult to carry on the tradition of education. I’m at pains to say what will happen if the VEC are not allowed to fill in gaps with these buildings”.
Cllr Aird asked both chairperson Cllr Mary Sweeney and CEO Anne O’ Keeffe to settle the matter “as soon as possible.” He pushed for the VEC to settle on a four year lease to move the deal along more quickly. “How would they take us out once we’re in? I guarantee that they won’t get us our once we are in, posession is nine tenths of the law”.
Cllr Paul Mitchell told the meeting that “when schools were built by nuns and brothers in the 1700’s, the poor people threw in their pennies and helped build them. The building belongs to the people and should be handed back to the town”.