Wednesday 26 June 2019

Bray to split into two 4-seat areas but others will not change

Mary Fogarty

A committee formed to review and make recommendations on the division of local authority areas has recommended that Bray be divided into two four-seat local electoral areas of Bray East and Bray West.

The Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee reviewed the division, into local electoral areas, of 23 local authority areas, which are currently divided into 89 local electoral areas and represented by 623 Councillors.

The only change recommended for the Garden County is in Bray, which will be maintained as Bray Municipal Borough District.

Wicklow’s total population according to the 2016 Census is 142,425, representing an increase of 4.2 per cent on the 20011 Census population of 136,640.

The largest settlement in the County is Bray with a population of 32,600.

Currently Wicklow has 32 members elected from five local electoral areas. There are six elected members from each of Arklow, Baltinglass, Wicklow and Greystones, while Bray has eight members.

The committee recommends that all the districts remain as they are, apart from Bray, which will be split into Bray East and Bray West local electoral area. Four councillors will be elected from each area.

Bray East will consist of Bray No. 1 Urban, Bray No. 2 Urban, Bray No. 3 Urban and Rathmichael (Bray).

Bray West will be made up of Enniskerry, Kilmacanoge and Powerscourt.

Sixteen submissions were received in respect of Wicklow which were carefully considered by the committee.

Bray Municipal District made a submission calling for Bray to be classified as a Municipal Borough Council, partially because the 2016 Census shows Bray’s population makes it the fourth largest urban population centre in Ireland, outside of the five cities.

The submission also asked for Kilmacanogue and Enniskerry, including Powerscourt, to remain within the Bray District.

Wicklow County Council lodged a submission requesting that there should be no change to the Local Electoral Areas in the county, having regard to the geography of the county and other unique factors.

A submission from Cllr Nicola Lawless asked that all Local Electoral Areas to remain as they are.

A submission from Baltinglass Municipal District requested that the area would remain as a six seat local electoral area and that ‘the geographic integrity of west Wicklow should be kept intact’.

Wicklow County Council lodged a submission requesting that there should be no change to the Local Electoral Areas in the county, having regard t the geography of the county and other unique factors.

A submission from Cllr Nicola Lawless asked that all Local Electoral Areas to remain as they are.

Kilmacanogue Community Forum pleaded their case to remain part of Bray Municipal District in a submission they made.

According to the submission: ‘On behalf of the community of Kilmacanogue, we the committee of Kilmacanogue Community Forum are making this submission to object to the proposed movement of Kilmacanogue from the Bray Municipal District to the Greystones Municipal district as part of the Boundary Review. We have spoken with the 8 Bray councillors and we are unanimous in their view that this should not happen and that Bray, Kilmacanogue and Enniskerry must remain as a full electoral area with 8 councillors.’

Among the reasons given were the social, cultural and economic links between Kilmacanogue and Bray. The submission added: ‘There is historical association between Bray and Kilmacanogue and our community relies significantly on Bray for social, recreational, educational, transport and employment needs.’

Cllr Derek Mitchell made his own submission representing the Greystones, Delgany, Kilcoole, Newcastle and Kiladreenan area.

The submission states: ‘Apart from Kiladreenan, which is really part of Newtown Mt Kennedy the area is cohesive. The half-hourly bus service connects Newcastle and Kilcoole to Greystones and Dublin and the Communities are interlinked. It has been suggested that the proposed changes would separate Greystones-Delgany from Kilcoole which might be linked to Enniskerry and Kilmacanoge. However, Kilcoole-Newcastle has no connection with the latter as there is no bus and both look towards Bray. In my view the area should remain the same, with the possible exception of Kiladreenan.’

A submission from Jimmy O’Shaughnessy, a former county councillor from Rathdrum called for Rathdrum and Barndarrig to be moved back into the Wicklow Electoral Area. Both areas were moved into the Arklow Local Electoral Area before the last local elections.

According to Mr O’Shaughnessy’s submission: ‘I find it hard to understand why those changes were made as Rathdrum has 1,700 people on the register and is only 11 miles from Wicklow town. Barndarrig is only three miles from Wicklow town, where as Arklow is 12 miles from Rathdrum and Barndarrig is about 11 miles away,’


'Hatchet taken to local democracy'

There have been mixed reactions to proposed boundary changes in Bray, with the Labour Party calling it 'the butchering of Bray', while independent councillor Joe Behan has welcomed the 'borough' status for the district.

The local election boundary review commission report was published last week.

'Currently the Bray local council area is represented by eight councillors who sit on the Municipal District Council and Wicklow County Council,' said Labour representative Ian McGahon. 'The proposal is to split this into two four-seat electoral areas where the town of Bray will only be represented by four councillors. 'Bray needs and deserves better than this,' he said. 'The current local government structure is the result of a failed experiment and this proposal makes it worse by butchering Bray. This is an anti-democratic unaccountable taking a hatchet to our local democracy here in Bray.' The Labour party is calling for Bray Town council to be reinstated.

Cllr Joe Behan said that the committee decided to designate Bray and its surrounding area as a Municipal Borough. 'This creates the possibility that our town will regain some of the powers it lost in the disastrous decision by the last Government to abolish Bray Town Council,' said Cllr Behan.

He called on powers over planning, housing and finance to be returned in full to the new Bray Municipal Borough Council.

'The decision to split the district into two local electoral areas is an administrative issue but doesn't change the fact that candidates will still have to secure a sizeable number of votes to be elected,' he said.

Wicklow People