Extra Strategic Policy Committee is set up
Wicklow County Council will have five Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) instead of the preferred model of four.
At last Friday's AGM of Wicklow County Council Cllr. Pat Vance said the economic development and enterprise SPC, which will also include the work previously carried out by the planning and economic development SPC, should be split in two.
He said economic development and enterprise shouldn't be included with planning and said 'given the problems that exist in the county' planning should have its own dedicated SPC.
He was seconded by Cllr. Vincent Blake. However Cllr. Joe Behan was vehemently against the suggestion. He said that he couldn't 'accept that planning should be divorced from economic development. In fact I think it's central to it. Planning is very important in economic development.'
Cllr. Pat Casey said the new council will be preparing the county development plan in the future and therefore there should be a split.
Cllr. Tom Fortune said he was divided as he agreed with both points of view. However he said that the SPCs were useless without a clear objective and said he wasn't to see reports and targets for each of the committees.
Cllr. Edward Timmins felt that in the past economic development had gotten lost in the planning SPC. Cllr. Tommy Cullen said if there was to be an additional SPC it should focus on employment adding that there is 50 per cent unemployment in Arklow at the moment - a claim that was questioned by Cllr. Sylvester Bourke who said he didn't feel it was that high.
County manager Eddie Sheehy said that while the Minister for Environment had suggested four SPCs in the county there was a certain amount of discretion and the council agreed to establish five SPCs with planning being created as the fifth committee.
Cllr. Pat Casey was elected as chairman of the Economic Development and Enterprise Committee having being proposed by Cllr. Pat Vance. He beat off competition from Cllr. Tom Fortune by a margin of 13 votes to 19.
Cllr. Jim Ruttle was elected as chair of the Community, Cultural and Social Development SPC by 20 votes to 12 keeping Cllr. Pat Kavanagh at bay.
The new chair of the Housing and Corporate Estate SPC is Sinn Fein's John Snell who was elected unopposed having being proposed by Cllr. Casey and seconded by Cllr. Chris Fox.
The duties of chair of the Transportation, Water and Environmental Services SPC will be shared by Cllrs. Derek Mitchell and Pat Doran who emerged victorious over Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore by a margin of 19 votes to 13 while the Planning SPC chairman duties will be split between Cllrs. Blake and Bourke who won out over Cllr. Steve Matthews of the Green Party by a similar margin.
Cllr. Tom Fortune wondered why the chairman position needed to be split saying 'I think this is just jobs for the boys again. I find it a little disgusting.'