Thursday, May 11, 2006
“Effing Anti-Social behaviour”
I plopped myself down beside Ged Nash and we listened as Brendan outlined the problems of anti-social behaviour in Louth and Meath. It was all fascinating stuff but then a fire-alarm went off and we had to vacate the building.
After 5 minutes we got the “all clear”. I tried to beat the crowd but once again by the time I got back in the chairs at the front had already been taken. The top team finished off the presentation. I mentally prepared a few words to say about the experiences of some of my constituents in Meath, but unfortunately the conference finished before any candidate got a chance to talk about local findings. I thought that Pat and Brendan came across well, though.
I wanted to mention that in the smaller villages in north and central Meath there is little or no anti-social behaviour. However, in certain areas in our larger villages and smaller towns there are some localised instances of anti-social behaviour which are having a serious impact on the quality of life for the residents of that community. Particular problems include:
· Littering in the countryside;
· Car burnings and car thefts in car parks, and joy-riding;
· Broken trees within estates;
· People loitering in laneways and in dimly-lit public spaces; and
· General vandalism
The surveys are ongoing and I will continue to explore measures to improve the situation.
On Saturday we did a canvass for three hours at the Tesco store in Ashbourne. I was joined by Pronsias de Rossa, the MEP, who is a firm favourite with Ashbourne folk, many knowing him from their days in north Dublin. I spoke to loads of people and one of the biggest causes of concern at the moment is that the council has withdrawn the road tax office from the town. People just can’t believe how they can do that in a town that is growing so quickly, and frankly I can’t make much sense of it myself. It’s all very well to talk about being able to tax your motor on-line, but the fact is that there is a digital divide out there. Coupled with that, you have to wait for your disc to be posted out, and given the drastic state of postal services in Ashbourne and Ratoath many people don’t want to go down this road!
I was also asked to examine the situation in relation to a potential roadway being opened up at Alderbrook, Ashbourne. Residents are concerned about the impact such a step would have on road safety.
Loose talk, the popular radio show on LMFM, asked myself and Ged N to go on the show on Monday to discuss the anti-social survey. We both joined the presenter , Michael Reade, in the studio. Michael made a few quips about Pat R getting caught saying “for f**k’s sake” into a Today FM live mike at the launch of the study, and warned us not to do the same. We spoke about the subject for about 25 minutes, and I think it was quite a good discussion. I was told afterwards that once again I was speaking far too quickly. I need to slow down when I speak (I’m putting it down to the fact that I’d been up since 4am and had consumed a barrel of coffee by the time I had reached the studio!)
Later on at the Meath County Council meeting in Navan we debated a motion from Tom Kelly of the Meath Green Party as to whether GM crops should be allowed in Meath. All Councillors agreed to oppose the proposed trials. Hopefully that will stop the company in their tracks.
On Wednesday I attended the Millmount Abbey Residents Association Annual General Meeting. Millmount Abbey is an estate of about 250 houses which lies just on the Louth Meath border. We discussed the provision of litter bins, dog foul bins and traffic calming measures. It was a well-attended meeting and I was given a number of items to follow up on. One particular issue raised is that school traffic flows in the morning are so heavy that long queues build up as cars try to get onto the main road. I was asked to see if a left-turn filter lane could be put in at the junction.
“That’s strange, I popped down one morning a few weeks ago at about ten to nine and there was virtually no traffic at the junction at all” I said.
“A few weeks ago? Was it during the mid-term break?” asked one lady in the front row.
“Actually, it was” I replied, the penny dropping.
“Well that’s just bloody typical of you politicians. You can’t even get the day right to look at school traffic problems!” she retorted scornfully.
I grinned sheepishly and agreed to return later on this week to look at the problem again, and promised that it wouldn’t be on Saturday.
Good to see a politician with such a "hands on " approach to local issues. Is there a possibility of Meath County Co. investing a bit more time and effort into the whole issue of illegal dumping. I can provide you with recent photos of this growing problem that would make you sick.
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