Wednesday 26 June 2019

Councillors are 'being slated' over flood relief

Deborah Coleman

Wicklow County Council needs to be more transparent in relation to the proposed Arklow Flood Relief scheme, the local elected members outlined at their July meeting last Wednesday.

The members expressed frustration about the negative backlash they are receiving on social media and said that they cannot get information from officials to pass on to concerned constituents.

Following a meeting in recent weeks with residents from South Quay, the members say they are still none the wiser why the plan proposes to straighten the bend in the river at the quay and demanded clarification as to why this is an integral part of the plan.

They outlined that this is a sticking point for some of the residents who have mounted a campaign to stop if from going ahead.

'We are getting slated on Facebook and we cannot defend the indefensible,' said Cllr Tommy Annesley. 'I don't why Marc Devereux (project manager) is not coming down. We can't defend this plan unless we see the drawings. There is not one positive thing being said about this plan and this is a very bad start to selling if for the betterment of Arklow,' he added.

Cllr Annesley said that he wants the residents to value this major project, but that more detailed information needs to be provided to those who have expressed concerns.

Cathaoirleach Miriam Murphy agreed with these sentiments and said that she, personally has yet to receive a response from Mr Devereux on the matter.

'We have nothing on paper here and Marc said he would come back to me in two weeks after that meeting and still I have no reply to my email. This is where we have to up our game. We have given the residents nothing and nobody knows anything from this side. It is us six councillors who will be knocking on their doors in a year's time and people do not forget,' she said.

Cllr Sylvester Bourke reminded the members that they do not have control over the decision ultimately.

'There is a misconception that we have the final say in this. We do not. It's is up to An Bord Pleanála. We are being unfairly criticised and this is spreading on social media. It is unfair that we are being help up as culpable for a decision that hasn't even been taken yet.

'We cannot represent the public when we don't have the information,' he said.

Cllr Murphy said that it is imperative that every stakeholder involved comes around the table together.

'This needs to be impressed upon the people holding the strings,' she said.

Cllr Pat Fitzgerald said that the removal of the bend has to be justified and that a way to satisfy everybody must be found.

'I understand why they feel this way but we must find a way to satisfy everybody. The project cannot be held to ransom and common sense must prevail,' he said.

Wicklow People