Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

Temporary School at The Narroways, Bettystown

The situation in relation to the school at Laytown is still up in the air. The "permanent solution" is going to take some time. In the interim we need to find a temporary solution for the children.

The main runners as solutions at the moment are (i) staggering the opening hours of the existing school and (ii) making representations to the planners to allow further prefabs on the site of the existing school.

The possibility is that neither of these solution may work, for various reasons, or may be felt to be sub-optimal by the parents and the Board of Management.

I have been contacted by many people who have suggested various options for a temporary site (including Mosney, the Laytown race field etc.). Many of these sites would work fine but all may be time-consuming because they are (a) owned by others and (b) would have to go through the normal planning process.

However, there is one site where thing are a lot clearer; that's the council owned land at The Narroways, Bettystown. This 3 acre site is currently the subject of a Part 8 application for social housing. Part of the site is also allocated to a community centre / creche type facility.

[A Part 8 application is similar to a normal planning application, but it's what the council does if it want to propose something itself. A key difference is the fact that the Councillors approve the proposal, not the planners.]

What I am willing to do, if the Board of Management think it is a useful idea, is to push for part of this council-owned land be used as a site for the prefabs on a temporary basis.

To help achieve this I have tabled a Notice of Motion for the next available meeting of the local Councillors. The Notice of Motion says the following:

"That the County Manager urgently prepares a Part 8 application for the erection of prefabricated classrooms at the Council owned land on The Narroways, Bettystown. These prefabricated classrooms would be for the use of the local school until the permanent school site becomes available."

The process would be that, assuming that the majority of the Councillors agree to this, the County Manager would then prepare an application for the erection of prefabs at The Narroways as well as a temporary access point to the site. The Planners would obviously liaise with the Board of Management to make sure the design contained all of their needs. Once this application is prepared the proposal would go on public display for around 5 weeks and then would come back to the councillors for final approval.

There are a few hurdles to be overcome if we progress this idea...... the planners may not like the idea, because of various issues. As well as this there would need to be a bit of work done to allow access for cars into the site. However, with the full committment of the councillors and the planners a temporary site for the school could be up and running in a short number of months (perhaps before Christmas).

There would be some impact on the number of social houses that could be provided on the rest of the site, but in the common good it may be worth delaying some of these in order to educate the children of the area.

Whilst the site is by no means as ideal as the site beside the parochial hall, it would mean that we wouldn't have to go through the same heartache next year. Also, it would keep the temporary school in the parish and would be very convenient for many families who are sending children to the school (it's right beside Sevitt Hall, Woodside, The Maples and many other growing estates).

The point about this proposal is that it is within the power of the local councillors, acting together in a non-partisan way, to deliver a temporary school for the good of the community.
I know that the Board of Management is meeting in a few days to discuss the options available. If this option is not as good as another one that comes up, then I will withdraw this Notice of Motion. But if they would like us to progress this option as a fall-back then I am very happy to push for it.

Let me know!

Comments:
hi Dominic
I think this is the best and most constructive idea i have heard on this issue all year, it does make sense as it will still be local and of course other parents will not have to go through the same torture next year in order to get thier child a place in school which they rightly deserve.
Please keep us updated on the outcome of the meeting with the planners
Keep up the good work
 
Hi Dominic, I have spent nearly 16 hours in meetings over the past week on this issue. I have always known that there is a solution if anyone bothered looking for it. It seems in this case that you have - teh solution is practical, sensible and appeals to all. I urge you if your are around to come to meeting on Monday next where the prospective SON parents are meeting to physically present this. At last there is some sensible hope - well done!
 
Brilliant - at last a simple answer to a complex issue.
 
Hi Dominic,
At last! You have done what others have been either unwilling or unable to do - provide an alternative proposal to a crisis situation. I congratulate you on your initiative and urge all involved to support and facilitate this solution. Many thanks!
 
This is a good suggestion, but I think the Labour party should check things with the planners to make sure it is as straightforward as they are suggesting. It may not be and, if not, it is not fair to raise parent's hopes. There are at least two other medium term sites which are being suggested, so this is not the only option available. Anyhow, this proposal would not get our kids ito school in September.
 
does someone know if there is a parents commitee set up in relation to this crisis with the school as if there is and they need help i would like to get involved!!
 
There will surely be a joint SSN/SON committee to focus on the immediate short term solution, the near term junior school site solution and finally the long term secondary school solution. Whilst every offer of help is much appreciated, any sites other than those identified by the planners to date, namely; Laytown school and the famous 4 acres, are highly unlikely to be even considered by the planning experts who have already established the landscape for the best short term, near term and long term solutions to a crisis that has left very few people in Laytown / Bettystown untouched, from local residents to parents in both schools alike.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Good to see that the best traditions of the Workers Party / Democratic Left are alive and well in 'Nu Labour'- 7 supportive comments from anonymous posters (someone's been busy), but the first bit of criticism from a real parent (Lousie 12.14PM) who has actually been working on the issue and it's censored.

You've come too late to the issue Cllr Hannigan - parents have a right to express their anger that you and others are trying to make political capital out of their misery. You on the other hand, have no right to censor or silence them.

Surely part of the point of a blog is to listen to people's responses to your claims?

Shame.
 
Hi Laytown Lad. I did remove a comment because I felt it was inappropriate and offensive. I'd like to encourage a two-way conversation through the blog and as such I welcome any reasonable comments.

I know from past correspondence that you are not a supporter of mine, and whilst I am happy to have you visit my site, I think that in all fairness you can't expect me to allow you to attack me through my own site.

If you have any constructive comments to make then please do so :)
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Mr Hannigan,
Breaking your election promise to represent the people who elected you as an Independent weeks into a 5 year term is one thing, but censorship of your constituents because you do not like their valid comments after you asked for feedback is not good for democracy. The people are looking for leadership not press releases and censorship. The individual reactions of politicians to the school crisis from all parties has been very revealing, each reaction has been stranger than the other while you may censor in fairness you, you do allow some comments, mainly the positive ones, while Mr Byrne of Fianna Fail seems to do total censorship on his blog. By the end of this a few local politicians may be without careers.

Have you any other suggestion for solving the school crisis?
 
Cllr Hannigan

Many thanks for getting back to me. A few points if I may. Firstly, the comment from the laytown parent was neither inappropriate nor offensive - she was simply expressing the anger that many of us feel about politicians who have ignored this issue and then jumped on the bandwagon. If people who disagree with your views are 'inappropriate and offensive' councillor, look again at your career choice.

Secondly, you say that you've judged me to be a non-supporter from previous posts I've made. This is only my third post - the previous two were both expressing frustration with politicians jumping on the Laytown school bandwagon.

Since I have the luxury of being in a new constituency, I also have the luxury of being undecided about who I'll vote for. You've made the decision a little easier though, so thanks.

Finally, you say, "I think that in all fairness you can't expect me to allow you to attack me through my own site". Sorry, but this isn't a website - it's a blog. By setting it up, you are opening yourself up to being criticised if people don't like what you're saying.

You want some construcitve advice? Don't start discussions where you're not prepared to listen to the other side's point of view. Oh, and you could restore the post from the angry parent.
 
Hi Dominic,

What is Layton Lads problem? He seems to be obsessed with uou! If he did a little less bellyaching and a little more constructive suggesting he might be worth taking seriously.

Nobody has covered themselves in glory with this issue - especially the government. At least you did inform people as to what was going on and perhaps that has forced the issue a little?

Saw ya on the telly last night - those incinerator guys are cowboys but maybe they will go away in a huff?
 
Dominic,

I see most of your supportive comments come from people who would like to remain anonymous, interesting that!

It's an awful shame that the only solution that you seem to be able to offer will help neither the 98 children due to start school on Monday, or the long term issue.

I think it's appalling that you can actually admit that as far back as 2000 the need for a school here was recognised by Meath Co Co. Why then are we still here waiting in 2006?

Not one more house, private or social, should be allowed to be built in this area until the proper ameneties are put in place for those of us already here! Why don't you issue a Part 8 in the Narroways for a playground, community centre, library, anything that our children may benefit from?? Instead you want to add more and more families to the equation. No family should have to go through what we have been through here in Laytown!

Don't worry we don't just blame you! The blame for this mess lies firmly at the feet of you and all your colleagues on Meath Co Co. Shame on you for not delivering the promises made. Shame on you for letting us down and letting 98 four and five year olds down!

I hope you can sleep well at night, because I certainly can't!
 
Anonymous 1.19PM said 'What is Layton Lads problem? He seems to be obsessed with uou!' [sic]

What is my problem? I'll tell you - my sister and her husband are not sleeping at night because their child doesn't have a school to go to. Cllr Hannigan and his pals have been sitting on their backsides ignoring the problem and then when a cross party effort to tackle the problem did emerge, Cllr Hannigan 'rode to the rescue' in the media, furthering muddying the waters.

But why would you worry about the kids? As you go on to say in your post, it's Cllr Hannigan's TV performances that matter.
 
Dear Ross’ Mum

Thanks for your comments. I can tell from the tone of your email that you are going through a lot of stress and heartache.

You are more than welcome to continue using the site to express your feeling or to make your points if you feel it is useful. In addition if you feel I can be of any help to you then I am very willing to meet with you or talk with you on the phone. Give me a call on 041 988 6307 and we can have a chat and arrange to meet to discuss the issue in more depth. Also, I am happy to provide you with some background information and indeed to raise some questions with the council on your behalf.

Similarly, Laytown Lad, I can only imagine that if the situation is causing such heartache to you on behalf of your niece / nephew, it must be even more distressing for your sister and brother-in-law. Could you let them know that I would be extremely happy to meet or talk to them on the phone to provide as much background information as they find useful.
 
Wow, Laytown Lad! Lighten up. Annoymous seems to have underestimated the level of your unnatural obsession with Councillor Hannigan. Do you have a website? I look forward to your next rant.
 
Cllr Hannigan, you said, "Could you let them know that I would be extremely happy to meet or talk to them ".

Sounds good. In fact, I suggested to them that they should speak to you at the meeting in the Parochial Hall in Laytown last night. But alas, it seems you weren't able to make it to that meeting either.

Barry, you said "I look forward to your next rant".

Your total contempt for the parents and children of Laytown is clear. Neither you nor Councillor Hannigan need worry - neither of you will be hearing from me or my neighbours again.
 
Would Anonymous and Barry please refrain from baiting Laytown Lad. This is not a website for people to attack each other on. This is a website for people to express opinions on issues in relation to our area and Laytown Lad is entitled to make whatever comments he likes in this forum, as long as they are not gratuitously offensive. Thanks.
 
I am quite amazed that Councillor Hanigan suddenly suggests that the Narroways site be used to locate the school, although temporarily. This site has been in the ownership of the local authority for a number of years and part of it was sold by tender despite the objections of local voters at the time. It is an obvious site to locate not only a new primary school but also the much needed secondary school and community facilities for the entire locality. Despite its central location, between Laytown Bettystown and Mornington our local councillors voted to have part of this ideal site sold off to provide for the day to day spending of Meath County Council. This is quite incredible especially if one compares it to the recently reported policies of the neighbouring local authority of Fingal. Fingal County Council are acquiring sites on behalf of the Dept of Education and Science and are part funding the provision of community facilities within the school campus. This approach is fastracking the builidng of new permanent schools across Fingal while also providing much needed community facilities in an area of rapid population growth. What is preventing this approach in Meath??? Here our Councillors vote to sell off the family silver as opposed to providing for the rapidly growing community. Why is the new primary school being stuated anywhere near the existing one in laytown? Is this politics to satisfy the PP or the Principal of the existing school.

As for sites and land rezoning, as I was read about that in the Irish times last summer (2005) and readd about councillors dismissing reports of land being flood plain, it sounded more like 1980s Dublin County Council. Who got the brown envelopes in East Meath I wonder.

The whole situation is a disgrace but at least early in 2007 local residents should be able to vent their frustration in the polls.

I like the suggestion of another poster that the site on narroways road be used for community facilities. a community centre perhaps, a library, pitches, sports hall, New Garda Sation, Health centre Credit Union, school????? Any of these in particular a community centre for activities for young people should be priority as opposed to more housing.
 
Mr Hannigan,

I've been reading your blog today with some interest. It strikes me that if people think that the crisis at Laytown School is satisfactory they should vote to return the current government. If they think the situation in Laytown and other areas is not satisfactory they should vote to change the government. You get what you vote for.
 
The 9.58am Sunday morning poster raises a number of interesting points, in particular, the crisis caused by the combination of massive population growth in Meath and the shameful failure of the government to plan accordingly. Even worse, if cash strapped county councils have to sell land to fund day to day costs this is entirely the responsibility of our government.

This poster also mentions "brown envelopes". Surely this is a matter for Finna Failers, as recent tribunals clearly indicate that they are the masters of the Planning Dark Arts?
 
As a new arrival to East Meath I find it horrific to think that in our modern Ireland, we have children unable to find a local school. I have no children myself yet, but i'll be watching this one with interest and taking scores for future elections.

With so many 'blow-ins' like myself the East Meath constituency is one that will have, I think, an uncertain results pattern for some time. In my last constituency, Tommy Broughan was my TD of choice who I voted for since I legally could because I believe the man got results. I hope that I can expect a similar service in East Meath.
 
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