Update from Wicklow County Council meeting 4th October 2021
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
As always, a lot was covered, and I’ve tried my best to give you a highlight of some of the items. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like additional information.
As Wicklow County Council returns to some sort of normality, the first hybrid meting took place today. Technical issues presented significant challenges, with the meeting delayed for nearly an hour as the matters were resolved. Finally, we began, and the meeting ran smoothly. It’s a new world and these challenges are part of new ways of working.
My personal view has always been that hybrid meetings should be an option going forward. Our public representatives should be reflective of our community and as inclusive as is possible. Giving people the option to attend remotely will provide better opportunities for people with disabilities, those with caring responsibilities (which is significantly representative of women in our communities) and others to be involved.
Depending on the continued lifting of restrictions it is intended that the November Wicklow Council Meeting may be held with all Councillors in attendance.
Disposal notices appear generally at every agenda and include items such as the selling of freeholds on previous local authority homes and the leasing of land owned by the local authority to others.
One item of interest in Bray is the leasing of the charity shop located at Bray Recycle Centre.
For background information this shop currently has four rooms, two operated by WH Five Loaves and two operated by Ark Housing Association.
Wicklow County Council recently went to public tender for the shop at Bray Recycle Centre. This had been advised on the signing of the last lease agreement 18 months earlier, where both Ark Housing and Five Loaves were advised that it would be the last lease agreement before the tender would be issued. This lease finished in April of this year.
Prior to the advertisement in the paper both existing tenants were contacted by Wicklow County Council and advised that the add would be in the paper. The tender specification required the successful candidate to have a Bray connection and outline in detail how they would support the community, their work, and the work of Bray Recycle Centre.
Ark Housing Association gave this matter serious consideration, hosting a number of Board Meetings to work collectively on the tender. The possible negative impact on the charity and more importantly on those we support was to the forefront. The tender was open to all Bray Charities.
Ark Housing received verbally confirmation of the successful tender but as it had not been received in writing were not in a position to make it public.
Today the matter went before the 32 Councillors for final approval.
As Chair of Ark Housing, I excused myself from this element of the meeting. It is really important to me that as a public representative I am transparent in my actions. Where any Councillor has a connection with an issue being discussed be that personal or through family connections, this must be declared.
In my absence the matter was discussed and was approved unanimously with no queries or objections. This is significant news for the charity who sadly receive not annual HSE or government funding and use the proceeds from the charity shop and fundraising to provide services.
To date Ark Housing Association provides 27 permanent homes for 10 individuals and 17 families. 40 children currently have a safe secure home with Ark Housing. Homes are currently located in Bray, Greystones, Newtownmountkennedy and Rathnew.
Chief Executive Report
The Chief Executive provided a report on all activities carried out by the Council over the last month. Councillors they have an opportunity to raise issues relating to the report or seek clarification. The report is available online at www.wicklow.ie
Some highlights from this month’s report and issues raised included –
Ard na Greine, Bray RAPID BUILD of 31 units - Completion anticipated Quarter 1 2022
Cedar Court Bray RAPID BUILD of 14 units - Site start anticipated Q4 2021
Vacant Properties - An Oral Hearing took place regarding 108 Charnwood, Bray on the 17th of August 2021. The local authority is currently awaiting a decision. The local authority has identified further long-term vacant properties for future batches of CPOs (Compulsory Purchase Orders).
Energy Efficiency Fabric Upgrade Phase 1 - Lot 1 includes 88 houses in Bray and Greystones. The local authority is awaiting determination of Department regarding repointing of these properties.
Energy Efficiency Fabric Upgrade Phase 2 - Contractor has commenced on site on 20 properties in Wolfe Tone Square West, Bray, approx. 10 nearly complete.
Slaintecare Healthy Communities Programme
The Slaintecare Healthy Communities Programme is a new initiative led by Slaintecare and Healthy Ireland in partnership with Wicklow Local Community Development Committee and other local stakeholders. The goal of the programme is to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of people living in the most disadvantaged communities in Ireland. The programme is based in the Bray are of Wicklow.
This is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing incorporating the physical and social determinants of health, that is, the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces and systems that shape the conditions of daily life. The programme will implement targeted initiatives to tackle these challenges from within these communities. This will be achieved through the provision of dedicated services to build sustainable improvements in the health and wellbeing of all those living in those communities.
A local implementation team will be formed in each area led by a SHCP Local Development Officer to be employed by Wicklow County Council.
A meeting took place on site with representatives of Oakmount and the Project Steering Group on the 2nd of September last to ascertain progress and the programme of works leading to a clear and final practical completion date. Up to then the developer has been concentrating on keeping the site Covid compliant and are removing plant and machines that are no longer required as well as lining up trades, subcontractors and supplies to come on site in one condensed period so to get works completed efficiently and timely. A return to main site is expected before the end of September with a practical completion date of the 31st of January 2022.
A traffic management plan was submitted ahead of the removal of the large crane on Saturday the 25th of September, which was a huge operation logistically. The developers have been asked to review the work involved and the logistics with a view to endeavouring to have the car park opened in advance of December 2021.
Bray Town Team / Bray Town Recovery Team
The Town Recovery held its final meeting in July. A new committee called the Town Recovery Team will take its place. An inaugural meeting of the Town Recovery Team will be held following discussion with the Cathaoirleach of Bray Municipal District. The members of Bray MD have agreed the Terms of Reference.
Bray Public Transport Bridge
Submissions under the Part VIII process closed on Monday 6th September 2021, with over 150 submissions received. All the data received is being collated and reviewed, with the intention of preparing a report for the elected members. As this is ongoing, An Bord Pleanala are reviewing the application and will determine whether an EIS is required.
Bray Harbour Area Integrated Regeneration
Funding of €7.14m has been announced for the Bray Harbour Area Integrated Regeneration Project from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) and this funding has the capacity to unlock the great potential of Bray Harbour and surrounding area. The harbour, its piers and adjacent lands are a major asset for Bray and this funding will facilitate an integrated scheme to develop the harbour and associated public realm works to provide a vibrant waterfront area with excellent connectivity between the promenade, the town centre the Dublin Road area and beyond. Wicklow County Council is in the process of appointing consultants to carry out additional survey work as part of the design process.
Offshore Wind Energy
There are a number of Offshore Wind Energy projects proposed off the coast of County Wicklow
• Dublin Array – Bray and Kish Banks
• Cailleach – off Bray Head
Bray Recycling Centre is now diesel free as the old diesel forklift has been replaced by an electric one and the diesel generator has been replaced by an increase in the power supply to the centre from the mains
Burial Grounds - Wicklow County Council has developed a columbarium wall at Springfield Cemetery, Killarney Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow. The development consists of two double sided walls with 96 niches on each side giving a total of 384 niches. Each side consists of 8 rows of 12 niches with each niche capable of accommodating 2 urns.
An advertisement has been placed in August inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified individuals or companies in respect of the inscription of individual plates/niche doors and installation of the plate following inscription. One submission has been received and operations will commence in September.
Draft Policy Statement on Mineral Exploration and Mining
The Department of Environment, Climate & Communications provided a presentation on a Draft Policy Statement on Mineral Exploration and Mining. This presentation will be provided in full and made available on my website as soon as it is received for you to review.
Joint Policing Committees (JPC)
JPC committees exist at a County Level as well as locally. They provide an opportunity for the Councillors, Community representatives, the Garda and Council officials to discuss policing issues. Concern was raised about plans to change these committees that may have an impact on the role of Councillors. Further information is to be issued on this subject and I’ll update you once received.
Due to safety & guidance on the management of Covid the meeting was then concluded. This meant that a number of items, including motions submitted by some Councillors could not be reached. As such these will be deferred to the next meeting.