Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The need for new Local Councils in East Meath
On Monday I attended the launch of a new report called “Civic Engagement and the Governance of Irish Suburbs”. It was drawn on evidence-based research carried out in Ratoath. The report was launched by Dr Maureen Gaffney, Chairperson of the National Economic and Social Forum, at Trinity College Dublin’s Policy Institute.
The study recommends that local voluntary associations be given a statutory role in local government and that community fora be established to support the involvement of residents in decision-making. How apt that the report should be published in the same week as the Inse Bay planning decision mentioned above. If we had a local council for the Laytown / Bettystown area then there would be more accountability in the planning process, with planners working on the ground and based in the area, not 20 miles away in Navan. Areas such as Laytown / Bettystown, as well as Ashbourne, now have populations of over 6,000 – in excess of towns such as Kells and Trim which already have local town councils. My view is that we should extend local democracy by providing statutory authorities for our growing East Meath towns. This might help to get more community-minded decisions from the planners.