Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Maelduin gets another entrance point

A few weeks ago a new access point opened for residents of Maelduin in Dunshaughlin. There are now two vehicular access points into the estate, which is unusual in Meath and raises some issues in relation to through traffic. Already I’ve had complaints from people who are worried about the speed of traffic going along the main spine road (traffic that actually doesn’t need to be within a residential estate.

Dunshaughlin double parking
Maelduin second access point

The opening of the roadway has also meant that cars are using the estate as a parking area. I spoke to the area engineer and it transpires that the new access point is just a right of way, and the council has got some concerns about it. I have contacted the enforcement officer and asked him to contact the developer to talk about how the situation can be regularised.

The residents of Cushenstown organised a public meeting to discuss the proposed graig (small village) for the area. I was invited along to give an explanation of the graig policy, and to provide some background on the draft County Development Plan.

A crowd of around 80 turned up on one of the hottest evenings of the century. The Athletics Hall was too warm so we all carried our chairs outside and gathered around in a large circle.

I was introduced to the audience (although I would have known many from my time at the school a quarter of a century ago). I gave a ten minute overview of the draft plan and invited questions. The crowd was eager to discuss the graig proposal and was well-informed about aspects in relation to rural planning. I fielded questions for almost an hour and by the time I had finished the sun was going down.

For me it was a very enjoyable experience. In many ways I suppose it was like the soap box politics of old. Standing outdoors for an hour, on a balmy July evening, having an in-depth conversation about the future of a community is part and parcel of the democratic process that shouldn’t be lost.

Our monthly Slane Area meeting started a half a hour earlier this month, to enable us to go “into committee”. The council goes into committee to discuss live planning files and other proposals. Personally I am against the concept. I can’t see whose interests it serves. Also, I know that not all councils behave like this. However, the support isn’t there to get it changed.

The meeting in proper was due to start at ten, but due to particularly bad agenda management we actually stayed in committee until noon. The impact of this was that members of the public who had come along to see local democracy in action had to wait outside from ten until twelve before they could come in.

I raised a numbers of issues, including road safety at The Apple Service station outside Julianstown and the taking-in-charge of The Cloisters estate in Bettystown. The engineer has agreed to meet the developer of The Cloisters estate on site next month, so hopefully this will expedite matters.

One of the main issues at the meeting was the proposal to adopt a framework plan for an Eco residential development of 1,300 houses at Laytown. The land, which was zoned before my time in the council, lies just beside the train station. I voice my concern about the impact of the development on the local network. Granted, the developer is putting in place schools and community facilities, but my worry is that the development will place unbearable pressure on an already creaking transport system. I estimate that there could be up to 800 additional rail users in the morning peak period (passengers are already packed like sardines) and another 1,200 vehicles on local roads through villages like Julianstown. I will be pushing for improvements to our local infrastructure before such a development is given the green light.

Julianstown village suffers from heavy traffic flows at the moment. Before the M1 opened there were up to 24,000 vehicles passing through the village every day. This dropped to 16,000 when the M1 opened, but has since risen back up because of car ownership growth, car usage growth and additional development in the area. It now stands at 20,000 vehicles a day. It’s a big concern for local residents and one that was raised when I attended a meeting organised by the Julianstown Residents Association in relation to the Pride of Place competition. A crowd of 50 turned out and listened to a presentation on community involvement in the village.

Julianstown Residents Association
Julianstown Residents Association Pride of Place competition

I spoke to a few of the other councillors after the meeting. I also met Sirena Campbell at the meeting. Sirena, who ran in the local elections in 2004, continues to be involved with the Julianstown residents association. Herself and the other association members are doing a marvellous job for the village and deserve the full support of the council.

Improvement to our road network are needed to improve safety. I met with our local engineer Shane Satell at Bellewstown Hill to talk about what can be done to improve the safety outside Bellewstown School. While we were chatting the local priest Fr David Brennan arrived to open up the church. The three of us discussed possibilities for improving road safety. Shane agreed to have a look at what can be done.

I met with Castle Glen residents association to discuss child safety at this new estate in Donacarney. For whatever reason, the council allowed the developer to build a very low wall at the front of the estate.

Low Wall at Castle Glen
Van driving past Castle Glen, Donacarney

This has created a danger for children, because toddlers can easily climb over the wall and potential wander onto a busy road. I promised to raise the matter with the engineer.

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