Sunday, October 22, 2006


A Different type of Performance for the Crowd

Another busy week of meetings across the area. A particularly good one in the village of Slane, where the Slane Forum group organised for a large crowd to hear the interim report of architect Professor Philip Geoghan in relation to the future of the village.

Key issues arising were the need for the bypass to be brought forward, for parking to be provided in the village centre and for changes to the road signage in the area, so that people coming to Newgrange would also call to the village. Since the opening of the Bru na Boinne Interpretative Centre the number of visitors to the village has dropped by 75%. We want to get them back. Next year sees the opening of the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge. We expect 100,000 visitors a year. That’s over 300 a day. Slane needs to get some of these visitors into the village.

Slane Forum

To get more tourists to visit we need to reclaim the centre of the town and provide additional facilities. Hats off to Lord Mountcharles, who is in the process of providing a site at Cavan Row for a heritage centre. Now we need to get the parking sorted. Slane can be the Adare of the north. Its location is fabulous; its setting is perfect. It should be the Jewel in the crown for tourism in the Boyne Valley.

This month’s area meeting went on from 9:30 until 2:30pm. That’s five hours! It’s a ridiculous way to manage things; most of the other area meetings conclude within a couple of hours. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending a meeting, the procedure is that we discuss certain matters in turn. For instance a report is given by the council engineer on water, and then each councillor makes a contribution in turn. Then we move on to sewerage, then roads, then amenities, etc., etc. Quite often there are about fifteen things on the agenda, and each councillor has a chance to speak on each issue. So, unless well managed, the meetings can go on for hours (as happened this week).

Luckily the Cathaoirleach is on the case. She timed one Councillor’s contribution on one issue at ten minutes. The same councillor probably waffled on for twice or three times as long as any other councillor throughout the whole meeting. That kind of behaviour is pointless, inconsiderate and self-defeating. His best points (and in fairness there are some good points) are lost in the thick fog he casts over his outpourings. The Cathaoirleach warned that in future she would truncate over-lengthy contributions.

I brought up the subject of the proposed Laytown playground again. The situation is that the land opposite Gilna’s pub is being registered by the council. Until it’s registered the construction of the playground can’t start. The registration process is that we instruct our solicitors to prepare a registration claim, then this is sent to the Land Registry and then they go through the motions. Last month I was promised an update on the situation, particularly in relation to where we are in the process.

It’s going through the registration process” was the rather vague answer I got again.

Last month I asked for a timeline of where we are on this” I responded. “You were going to tell us if it was with the solicitor or whether it was now with the Land Registry”.

Oh, it’s with the Land Registry” came the reply from the official.

That’s strange” I responded. “I called in to the Land Registry last week and they have no record of any attempt to register this land. Please prove me wrong, but it would appear that 18 months on this issue is STILL with our solicitors, and hasn’t even reached the Land Registry.”

The officials clearly hadn’t managed to get an update on the situation from the solicitors.

We’ll look into it and get back to you next month” replied the official.

I’m going to keep at them on this issue. We have a fund of over half a million euro for playgrounds sitting in a bank and we have one tiny playground in the whole area for a burgeoning population.

The annual Council housing awards took place this year in The Newgrange Hotel, Navan. Estates like Mountain View in Stamullen, St Cianan’s Villas in Duleek, St Mary’s Villas in Donore and Alverno in Laytown all won prizes.

Council Awards

There was a large crowd in attendance on the night. I had to leave before the end because I had a dinner date with friends. The dinner was great but when I woke up the next day I felt really bad. My stomach was moving like there was an alien in it.

I got up and had breakfast and almost straight away got violently ill. After an hour of this things seemed to settle down. I got myself ready and headed out to my first meeting, a briefing with the residents of Donacarney.

Myself and about ten people discussed issues in relation to the open space, the footpath and the junction. I had a couple of Notices of Motion down on the agenda for the monthly area meeting and I needed to get back to the residents with an update. The meeting didn’t last too long and I took away some actions. At this stage I was feeling ok. I drove off to my next meeting and when I got there a crowd of about twenty awaited. I felt queasy again, so I told them that I wasn’t well.

We discussed an issue in relation to development and I gave some advice and answered questions posed by the residents.

After about half an hour I started to feel decidedly ropey. “Ok, unless there are any more questions I propose that we finish up here and I'll get back to you with some answers” I said.

The crowd were through with questions, apart from one man with an issue particular to his house:

I’m not sure if you are aware but there’s a problem with the vents in a number of houses in the estate” he said. “I’ve had no joy from the builder so we’re taking legal proceedings.”

What about the homebuyers bond?” I asked. The bond was set up so that owners would have recourse to the builders if problems were encountered in their homes a few years after purchase.

It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, and it’s run by the builders themselves” he opined.

I was feeling worse with every passing second.

Will you send me an email with the history, and I’ll follow up on it?” I asked.

Just then the alien moved in my stomach.

We’re going to the court next week, so I’ll let you know what happens.”

I couldn’t hang on any longer. “I’m sorry, I have to go now!” I blurted out. I moved quickly over to my car and threw up on the verge. I heard one lady say in the background “He’s not well, is he.”

I know, he said he was sick” her neighbour replied.

I finished and turned around, made an apology and got into the car. Just as I started the engine the alien returned. I got out, ran for the gutter and was ill again. When the alien had departed a man came over to me asking “Would you like a cup of tea?” which was very thoughtful. I declined, apologised and moved on.

The only thing for it was to go home. I drove home, where I spent the rest of the day recuperating. I’d guess that incidents like this happen to everyone at some stage. It’s a performance I won’t forget!

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Have Labour politics really got to the point where your frustrations with the length of meetings in Slane and your vomit are the most important things to happen in a week of campaigning in Meath East??

Suddenly the opinion polls make sense.
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Ned from Nobber should probably read over the post again, I read about playgrounds, use of open spaces, bypasses, parking, tourism, infrastructure, the Slane Forum (and I didn't even know one exists), maybe the nob from nedder, sorry ned from nobber missed something, somethings, well the whole post literally.

Keep posting Dominic I'm enjoying reading about the day to day stuff in a councillors life, nob from nedder must do too or he wouldn't have bothered to comment.
"maybe the nob from nedder... missed something" - Anna B

The Nob from Nedder? Nice, Anna. Very nice.

I think my point stands.
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