UPDATE Wicklow County Council Meeting 1st March 2021
Mother & Baby Homes & County Homes in the State
I sincerely welcome Cathaoirleach Cllr. Pat Kennedy’s statement on the Commissions of Mother & Baby Homes & County Homes in the state. The Cathaoirleach echoes the apologies of the Taoiseach and issued an apology on behalf of Wicklow County Council. He commended the individuals involved in the report for their courage and contribution.
Wicklow Local Authority, during the period of 1922 – 1970 was responsible for the County Home in Rathdrum which is included in the report. Catherine Wright, Wicklow County Archives is currently helping some individual to access records held by the Council. If you wish to contact Catherine directly please phone: (0404) 20126 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I had the benefit of speaking to an activist in this area today and look forward to working with her and others to bring the situation in these homes across our country into public discussion. I believe that it is only through acknowledging the past that we can prevent this occurring again. On this issue I will be led directly by the women and men who have lived this experience.
Chief Executive Report (The CE Report is produced monthly and available to read in full on the Councils website – below is a brief selection of some of the matters covered).
· I called for an update on the review of the Fire Services in Bray and a presentation to Bray MD on how this will be progressed. This was agreed to.
· NTA funding of €7.5 million for road works was welcomed, funding last year in this area was €2.5 million. Details of the works in Bray Municipal District area will be presented to Bray MD shortly.
· Roads Department – following the funding and the volume of improvement works that will be undertaken the Council will now higher an additional 6 Engineers and an additional 12 outdoor staff to bring these improvements into place.
· Funding secured to do investigatory works for a swimming pool for the West of the County – this is great news, especially for the community in West Wicklow who have been running a long campaign to get movement on this.
· Dog Fouling was discussed as it has become a major issue across the County. The Council committed to further examining options to tackle this issue. It would be wrong however to think that this is just a council issues, as communities we need to call out poor behaviour and highlight the health dangers that infection from dog faeces can cause.
· Domestic Violence is on the increase and the possibility of looking at this group separately regarding their housing needs was discussed and will be referred to the Housing SPC.
· Irish Water have launched the small town & villages upgrade works.
· Road at St. Catherine’s school raised as a significant concern, Chief Executive confirmed that emergency road repair works can be carried out at present under current restrictions and that this area would be examined.
· Migrant Integration Strategy moved to April meeting due to the number of items on the agenda. This was very disappointing and is something this County, and this town needs urgently.
· Resources in Homeless HAP Section raised, there is currently one full time staff member in this area, this needs to be reviewed given the numbers seeking this service.
Joint Policing Committee
End of year report presented and reviewed.
Report on Wicklow County Council Audit Committee end of year report 2020
End of year report presented and reviewed.
Received Presentation on Avondale Project
We received a presentation on the Avondale Project, Rathdrum.
This project involves a €15 million investment into Avondale. A huge and extremely impressive plan, this will see Avondale development to include a sensitive upgrade on existing trails, a sensory garden, a Tree Management Plan to ensure that the forest remains healthy for many years to come, a Biodiversity Management Plan to look after the biodiversity in the area, a place to grab something to eat, the refurbishment of the original Avondale House to showcase its history and a playground. The amenity will remain open free of charge to the public, however some features will involve a charge, namely the tree top walk.
I was delighted to hear that accessibility had been taken into consideration in the development and the tree top walk will be wheelchair accessible with an appropriate gradient bringing you up into the trees. A 1.2 km during through the trees, viewing them in a new light.
The development has a focus both on education and the environment which is to be welcomed and will be a fantastic addition to the county. All planning consent is now in place. It is expected that it will open Spring of 2022 (restrictions permitting).
(Tree Top Walk will be through and over trees, displayed in image without trees covering it to show its scale.)
Presentation on Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2020 – 2025, ‘Valuing Outdoor Recreation in County Wicklow
Presentation received from Humphrey Murphy on behalf of the Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Committee. This committee consists of -
· County Wicklow Partnership
· Wicklow County Council
· Wicklow Sports and Recreation Partnership
· Wicklow Mountains National Park and the National
· Parks and Wildlife Service
· Wicklow Uplands Council
· Wicklow Way Partnership
This plan was well received especially given the huge increase in interest among communities in and outside of Wicklow, in outdoor recreation. There will be a €20 million spend in this area.
Issues discussed during the presentation from the Councillors included parking, mapping routes, supporting & valuing landowners who are opening their land, supporting business to diversify including accommodation, dogs off the lead especially at present with lambing in full swing, damage caused to land by cyclists as well as ways to put consultation and engagement with landowners on a more structured basis. These were all taken on board and will be reviewed by the committee in the coming months.
Wicklow County Council 3-year Capital Programme 2021 – 2022
This was reviewed briefly with an opportunity to submit queries and questions to the officials in the coming weeks.
Presentation on Wicklow County Councils Housing Construction Programme
Proposed development for 2021 – 325 units (as outlined below)
Units for development in conjunction with Approved Housing Bodies
· Central Garage Site, Bray, 16 units, tender stage, part 8 granted.
· Upper Dargle Road, Bray, 3 units and Killarney Road, Bray, 18 units (Part 8 stage)
· Rehills site, Bray, supported housing proposal.
Affordable units are being examined for the Rehills site, Bray.
Enhanced Leasing units are being provided at Adelaide road, Bray, 71 units, due for delivery 2021.
Homeless figures provided and reviewed.
Units in Kilbride Grove & Jameson Heights, Kilmacanogue has been allocated.
Suspension of standing orders
Standing order were suspended to discuss the closure of Bank of Ireland banks in rural Wicklow – Tinahely, Rathdrum and Carnew Banks. Following a full discussion on the impact of this news it was agreed to submit a letter on behalf of all Wicklow Councillors to the Minister and Bank of Ireland to outline our concerns.