Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Figures claim Meath has 61 times zoned land it needs for houses

Bid to begin dezoning land throughout the county
Taken from the Meath Chronicle 19th May 2010 by Paul Murphy

A drive to slash the amount of land rezoned for housing purposes throughout Meath - where there is up to 60 times more land for residential use than is needed - will begin next Monday when a councillor will call on colleagues to "face up to the fact that the county is over-zoned for housing".
Fine Gael Cllr Regina Doherty, who was elected to Meath County Council last summer, said there was "justified criticism" of councils throughout the country which zoned land "for favours done". She said that vast tracts of land should never have been rezoned from agricultural use in the first place.
There has been widespread criticism of the practice in the past, including by a High Court judge who said a number of years ago that Meath County Council had paid scant attention to the Greater Dublin Area Strategic Planning Guidelines (SPGs) when it rezoned land for an "enormous population increase". Mr Justice John Quirke found the guidelines were barely considered at all in the scramble to satisfy landowners and developers.
In one recent survey, Meath was found to be one of the worst offenders when it came to rezoning. It has sufficient land rezoned for 124,173 homes but only needs 2,023 - 61 times the demand.
Meath was followed by Waterford (40 times), Louth (38), Monaghan (26) and South Tipperary (17). In the first three months of 2010, just over 500 homes were built in the top five counties. They have land zoned for more than 250,000.
Meath County Council has disputed figures on land rezoning published in a national newspaper. However, the newspaper said it had based its survey on statistics supplied by the Department of the Environment, and the Department has said it is supplied with the figures by individual county councils.
Cllr Doherty said yesterday (Tuesday) that, since being elected to Meath County Council last year, she had been involved in just two planning debates and decisons - the Dunboyne/Clonee/Pace Draft Local Area Plan 2009-2015, and a piece of industrial land off the Ballybin Road.
"From what I have seen, Meath is vastly over-zoned. We have an awful lot more land zoned for housing than we have a requirement for houses," she said. At a meeting of the Dunshaughlin Area Committee of Meath County Council earlier this week, Cllr Doherty tabled a motion aimed at dezoning of land.
However, she withdrew her motion because she said it might have legal implications for the council but said that she will be submitting a fresh motion on the subject at next Monday's area meeting.
She said she will present a motion, backed by Cllr Niamh McGowan, that the Dunshaughlin local area councillors recommend to the full council that some or all of the lands zoned residential in Ashbourne, contrary to the recommendation of the county manager after the publication of the draft Local Area Plan, should be rezoned to their pre-draft designation and that the public consultation process to bring effect to this should commence immediately.
The councillor said that she wanted to go into "the why and wherefores" of why land was rezoned for housing when there was no obvious requirement for the amount of housing being projected. She said she had started with Ashbourne but would hope to move on to Dunboyne which, she said, also was "hugely over-zoned".
Cllr Doherty said that when the Dunshaughlin area meeting was held earlier this week, officials had "put every obstacle in my way" in her push to start the dezoning process. She said they had made the point that the council does not yet have a policy on dezoning of land, and that a policy could only be formulated following discussion in the council.
In relation to the rezoning of land in Ashbourne, she said: "It is obvious to anyone why land was rezoned - the land was rezoned for favours done. It should never have been rezoned in the first place. People need to stand up today and say why land that has been rezoned should be retained in that status, and not dezoned. We will all be obliged in September to dezone land when the minister brings in a new law. I have seen that Kerry County Council has moved on this already - they should be proud of themselves for correcting the mistakes that were made."

Gaelscoil Rath Tó supporters 'gutted' by Dept recognition 'no'

Gaelscoil Rath Tó supporters 'gutted' by Dept recognition 'no'
taken from the Meath Chronicle 19th May 2010 by Paul Murphy

A decision by the Department of Education and Science not to give recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which is due to open in September has left the establishing committee of the school, local parents and supporters "gutted", a Dunshaughlin area county councillor has said.
A local committee had been established in Ratoath to push the project forward but there has been widespread disappointment that the Department has failed to issue recognition in time for September this year.
Cllr Regina Doherty told members of Meath County Council that there was a definite need for, and support for, the concept of a gaelscoil in Ratoath. Other Gaelscoileanna in Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin and Ashbourne had "completepy overstretched" their capacity to take in any more pupils, she said.
Meath County Council passed a unanimous resolution at its May meeting "supporting and applauding the work of the establishing committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó and calls upon the Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills to immediately recognise Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which will be opening in September 2010".
Cllr Doherty was supported at the council meeting by Cllrs Joe Bonner, Nick Killian, Maria Murphy and Jim Holloway. Cllr Killian said he fully supported the efforts of the team pressing for the new school in Ratoath. He said he felt the difficulty with the Department was a technical one and held out the prospect that Departmental recognition would come.
Cllr Murphy said that matters in regard to education would "have to change".
She said: "Parents have to fight so hard to get education for their children. They are being knocked down at the first hurdle. It is a shame that the Department is not giving recognition and I would hope that it would change its mind by September."
Cllr Holloway said the efforts by the community to provide a new school "represents one of the better things in this country when people get together to follow this worthy objective".
Cllr Doherty said that Meath's local representatives had sent out a very strong message to the Department by endorsing the motion that the wishes of parents should be heeded in the provision of education in Ratoath. "The Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills should act now to ensure that Irish-medium education is provided in Ratoath with the full support of her Department by granting recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó," she said.
Cllr Doherty said the proposed school had 135 students on its roll. There had been a review by the Department last year of the 43 locations around the country in line for gaelscoileanna. However, that number had been brought down to nine and it had now emerged that Ratoath was not among them.
"We thought we were going to have a school in September", she said. "The money had been collected with the grest support of the whole community. To our deep dismay, we had word from the Department that the only criteria used in assessing the need for schools was demographic. We were told that we did not have enough children to justify the school. We were gutted," she said.
Backers of the proposed new school are hopeful that the recognition will come by September next year but, in the meantime, they have been encouraged by a number of Gaelic organisations and gaelscoil authorities from other areas to go ahead with the project without Departmental approval.
At one public meeting in the Ratoath Inn, parents reached a consensus to proceed with the opening of the school in September this year without Departmental recognition. It is now planned to open the school in the local GAA centre next September.

• Getting Ireland Working Again

Public meeting held in Kelly's Lounge, Ashbourne 18th May 2010


Simon Coveney TD, Cllr. Regina Doherty and Dr. Leo Varadkar TD
The Government’s visionless policy of “writing whatever cheques are necessary” to bail out delinquent banks, and then finding the softest targets to cut the Budget deficit is not fair and is not helping people get back to work.

This strategy may win plaudits from powerful interests in the financial markets whose only concern is that they get bailed out of their bad investments in Irish banks, but it sells our people and their future prosperity short.

o Government policies will lead to the loss of a further 70,000 jobs in 2010 – a total loss of almost 300,000 jobs in the three years since it was re-elected.

o The unemployment rate has tripled to 13.4% - the second highest in EU.

o 432,500 were on the dole in April – record figures.

o Those under 34 years of age have suffered 85% of the job losses.

o And 82,998 people under 25 are on the dole, with tens of thousands more forced to emigrate to find work.

At its core, the government’s strategy is about battening down the hatches and protecting a circle of powerful interests that help sustain its power, while freezing out a younger generation who have yet to get a foothold on the economic ladder. Brian Cowen’s “bubble economy” has resulted in sky high personal debt matched with deteriorating national competitiveness.

Fine Gael has a very different approach to fixing the economy, focused on job creation and protection. We understand that we cannot fix the banks and the public finances unless we also fix the jobs crisis. Our plan for “Getting Ireland Working Again” would create and protect 175,000 jobs.

Instead of increasing taxes, as the Government proposes, we would immediately cut taxes on jobs and struggling sectors of the economy. We would abolish the €10 travel tax for tourists, cut VAT on home extensions and refurbishments, hotels and restaurants and cut PRSI for 1.7 million jobs.

Instead of borrowing billions more to bail out Anglo Irish Bank, as the Government proposes, we would use the same money to start a new National Recovery Bank to ease credit conditions for families and small businesses.

Instead of slashing investment in vital infrastructures, as the Government proposes, Fine Gael’s “NewERA” plan would create 105,000 jobs through an €18 billion upgrading of the clogged arteries of our economy – water, broadband and energy – paid for in part by selling assets that the State no longer needs. Economic commentator Eddie Hobbs described it as “the best thought out strategy in town”.

Instead of encouraging idleness, dependency and poverty for younger unemployed people, we would use the social welfare budget to expand second chance education, training and internship opportunities.

Instead of more cuts in pay for low- and middle-income workers, as the Government proposes, we would help small businesses, exporters and inward investors by forcing down high prices for rent, electricity, transport and professional services.

Our plan to tackle youth unemployment forms part of Fine Gael’s Jobs and Competitiveness strategy alongside our NewERA plan to provide an €18 billion stimulus to the economy by retooling or selling off some of the existing semi-state companies and by setting up new ones to invest in broadband, green energy and water, A Fresh Start for Jobs and Small Business our eighteen point plan to reduce the cost of doing business, and our proposal to establish a National Recovery Bank to get credit flowing to business and consumers. To cut the cost of labour we have recently proposed a Jobs Tax Cut which involves reducing both rates of employers PRSI which we estimate will create or save an additional 30,000 jobs

Our objectives are two-fold:

• To reduce the numbers of young people signing on to the live register by one third over the next year; and

• To ensure that young people who are not in work, education and training do not become a lost generation but instead are provided with the skills and tools they need to take up employment when the recovery comes

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Council Must Get Serious with Unauthorised Developments along the N2

Following an update of the unauthorised developments along the N2 to the Dunshaughlin Area Council, Cllr. Regina Doherty had commented that it is time for Meath County Council get serious with anybody in breach of the Planning and Developemnt Act, 2000.

There are a large number of unauthorised developments operating all along the N2 some of which have been there for 7 years or more.  Whilst I appreciate that there is a legal process to be followed there are some developments where we have not even managed to serve a notice on yet even though they are there for more than 3 years.

This sends out completely the wrong message to all the law abiding people who apply for planning in the correct manner, some of which find it extremely difficult to secure planning even on their own land.

It was was also mentioned at yesterdays meeting the Meath County Counicl are actually collecting Commercial Rates from some of these developments.  I am putting down a Notice of Question to the Manager for Junes Council Meeting to seek clarification on this matter.  It would beggar belief that we would be collecting rates from unauthorised developments thus giving them validity whilst pursuing then through the courts.

8 Estates Prioritised for Taking In Charge for 2010


Cllr Regina Doherty has welcomed the decision to prioritise the following estates to be Taken in Charge by Meath County Council during 2010:
Moulden Bridge – Ratoath, Fox Lodge Woods – Ratoath, Tudor Grove – Ashbourne,  St. Johnswood – Ashbourne, Grange Hall – Dunshaughlin, Coldericks Pass – Dunshaughlin, Plunkett Hall – Dunboyne & Lutterall Hall – Dunboyne
 
The council has taken the initiative to instigate the taking in charge process and this is to be welcomed.

Level of Amenity & Lawnmower Grants a Real Slap in the Face to residents of South Meath

Cllr Regina Doherty has described the amount of amenity and lawnmower grants considered today at the Dunshaughlin Area Meeting as a real slap in the face for the 100’s of residents associations who care for and maintain the green areas of all our villages and estates. 

€4,600 was shared among the applicants for amenity grants today along with €345 allocated in lawnmower grants.  This is a real insult to the people of South Meath.  Meath County Council do not have a Parks Departments and as such we are tasked with supporting residents to carry out the work in lieu themselves.

Whilst I appreciate that the Councils’ Annual Budget is dwindling due to the economic climate, we must pay more respect to the hundreds of people carrying out this work.   

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Entrance for St. Olivers Park and The Pines, Fairyhouse Road

A new safer entrance for St. Olivers Park and The Pines is currently underway. It will involve realigning
the road and entrance. This will ensure that motorists and pedestrians will be safer and as part of this project traffic lights / safe crossing will be erected from here to Conways Spar shop.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emergency Water Supply Conservation Notice

Meath County Council wishes to inform consumers in Ashbourne, Curragha, Ratoath, Dunshaughlin & surrounding areas that consumers in these areas may experience a reduced level of water pressure due to some technical problems that occurred over night at the production plant at Curragha.  Our engineers are currently working to resolve this fault. It may take sometime before normal service is restored to all areas.

  We urge all consumers to conserve water at all times particularly during the next few days.

Meath County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Housing Adaption Grant Scheme Re-opens

Housing Adaption Grant Scheme Re-opens

Meath County Council Housing Department has announced the re-opening of the following Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes from today, the 4th May 2010 said Cllr. Regina Doherty.
• HOUSING ADAPTATION GRANT FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY
• HOUSING AID FOR OLDER PEOPLE
• MOBILITY AIDS HOUSING GRANT SCHEME
Please note as there is limited availability of funding only applications received during the period 4th May 2010 and the 30th June 2010 will be considered.
The limited funding will be allocated to applicants on the basis of priorities drawn up by the Council in respect of each of the three schemes, with the top priority relating to applicants who are terminally ill or fully/mainly dependant on family or carer; or where alterations/adaptations would facilitate discharge from hospital or alleviate the need for hospitalisation in the future. The Council will be guided by the professional opinion of an Occupational Therapist in affording priority to applications received under the schemes.
A single dedicated phone line is being set up to allow persons to leave their names and addresses to request application forms for any of the three Grant Schemes, which will then be sent out without delay. The dedicated Phone Line Number in respect of applications for the above grants is: (046) 9097295.
Only receipt of a fully completed application form with all required supporting documentation will deem an application valid for assessment to the Housing Department
I would encourage anyone eligible to apply for this funding as soon as possible. If anyone requires assistance with their application please do not hesitate to contact me on 01-8257204  said Cllr. Doherty
Application forms and further details in respect of the three grant schemes can be downloaded from www.meath.ie from the reopening of the scheme on 4th May 2010 at http://www.meath.ie/LocalAuthorities/Housing/HousingForms/ . Application forms and further details can also be obtained from the Council Offices or Area Offices from the 4th May 2010.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Where are our Extra Gardai.......

After two very serious assaults and robberies in Ratoath village over the last few days, I am calling on local TD Mary Wallace and Minister for Justice Dermot Aherne to honour their promise of last year and deliver the 2 extra Gardai to Ratoath.

1 year ago to great aplomb Mary Wallace delivered 4000 leaflets detailing the 2 extra Gardai she had secured for Ratoath from Minister Dermot Aherne. Well we are still waiting Mary.

2 people were very seriously injured, one remaining in hospital along with over €8000 robbed during one raid. The local Gardai are a fantastic team and do our community a great service but there quite simply are not enough of them.

Originally we, the residents of Ratoath were seeking our own Garda station. For a population of over 8000 we didn’t think this unrealistic, but in lieu of this Mary Wallace told us she secured us 2 extra Community Gardai for Ratoath. Well now it’s time to deliver before anybody else gets seriously hurt.

As Chairperson of the Joint Policing Committee in Meath, one of our main objectives this year is the build on the already existing team of Community Gardai and the fantastic work they do. Its very hard to do that with a diminishing workforce.