Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Setanta Cups and Laytown Races

Problems with the Electoral Register have been in the news a lot lately. It follows on from the Private Members Bill that Eamon Gilmore introduced to the Dail last week. I’ve come across many issues and anomalies in my own area. One of them was referred to by Eamon in his Dail speech and was mentioned on RTE’s Oireachtas Report: the fact that in some new estates, such as Rath Lodge in Ashbourne, there are whole rows of houses with no voters registered. I was in Rath Lodge last week and once again managed to register people. The problem is a function of the time it takes to register new housing estates coupled with the increase in buy-to-lets (many renters only remain in a house for a short period, e.g. a year, hence “churnage” is greater).

I headed up from Rath Lodge to see the mighty Drogs overcome Cork in the final of the Setanta All-Ireland Cup Final at Tolka Park. That makes two cups inside 5 months and is a tremendous boost for the sporting morale in the East Meath area.

Another sporting event on its way to East Meath is the yearly Laytown Races. The fact that there are no public toilets at Laytown to cater for the visitors to the Races is a concern for all of the Councillors. I raised this issue at the last meeting and was told that although the council has now put a portaloo in Laytown (which has been there since last Autumn) the ESB has still to connect it. I put out a story to the press, calling for action and the story was picked up by The Star, the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner and the Mirror. I have since heard back from the council that there has been a bit of movement on the issues, so hopefully Laytown will have a functioning public toilet soon!

Laytownloo


The lack of public facilities came up again in our review of the County Development Plan. We are still considering the strategic issues for the plan, and have yet to get to the stage where we examine individual rezoning applications. At our meeting yesterday there was much debate about where to concentrate any additional growth. Many of us feel that any more residential zones should only be countenanced if community facilities come first.

Some debate revolved around the town of Dunshaughlin. The draft plan suggests that it is classified as a small growth town. That means that only a certain amount of extra zoning would be recommended by the planners. However some councillors suggest that the town should be classified as a moderate growth town. The rationale is that only by allowing the town to grow further is it likely that the council can raise sufficient development levies from the houses to fund the Navan to Dublin Rail line. It’s an interesting debate. If Dunshaughlin is a small growth town then the number of houses is likely to be constrained to about 3,000 houses by the end of 2013. If it is a moderate growth town then the total houses might be up to 5,000 (these numbers are “ball-park” at this stage). These extra 2,000 houses (paying maybe €20,000 a pop) will contribute up to €40 million to the costs of the rail line. The key question is will this increase be sufficient to make the necessary difference to proceed with the rail link, in a project likely to cost a few hundred million, or will it just add more housing to Dunshaughlin? We discussed it at our Dunshaughlin branch meeting last night and we will be giving the matter further thought before we decide on our stance.

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