Port’s vision for regeneration

WITH more than 3,000 people signing on in Portarlington , the local community came together last week to come with a plan which will reverse the town’s problems

WITH more than 3,000 people signing on in Portarlington , the local community came together last week to come with a plan which will reverse the town’s problems

Vision 2020 is the name of the project which is being co-ordainted by the Portarlington Community Development Association who, along with a number of local stakeholders, hope to create an achievable plan for businesses and groups in the town.

It is hoped that the project will contain ‘local solutions to unemployment’, and tackle issues within the community such as poor communication between groups and organisations.

A meeting to plot out the future was held in Port Community Centre last week and organisers were happy with the numbers that turned up to give their ideas and suggestions. Celia Deverell of PCAD (Portarlington Community Development Association) told the Leinster Express that since the inception of Port’s Vision 2020, people saw the value and had an appetite for such a project.

“We have been talking to a number of groups including traders and farmers and all are eager,” she said.

It is hoped that Port’s Vision will encapsulate all of the groups in the town, of which there are more than 60. Groups of a similar nature will work together, each with their own set of targets. The organisers want to have as many stakeholders as possible involved in the project from the start so everybody has a say.

“We want business people involved in this, it is an opportunity for input. The community are trying to help themselves and we have to be prepared and planned,” said Ms Deverill.

According to an overview the hope is “to stimulate a major shift in the use of community and business energy to generate our own jobs and increase social capital. The project will demonstrate how, by acting on every aspect of community and business life, we can make Portarlington a resilient town and a very nice place to live”.

It is hoped that over the next few years Portarlington will be able to support and encourage the growth and support of new local business as well as attracting investment into the town. Already Bord na Mona have held a meeting in the town regarding the Greater Dublin Water supply project. This project if successful will see 1,000 people employed in the area for the three years it takes to build, and 100 people employed every year after for maintainence.

Speaking on behalf of PCDA, Seamus Kehoe welcomed the project.

“It will be a success if we all work hard. There is no way we can do nothing, and we have to do it ourselves,” he said.

Although Port’s Vision is at the early stages, workshops are already being planned for local people to help idea generation. A community consultant has been employed by the PCDA to assist. Frank Dolohan, who helped revitalise, Newry visited Portarlington last week and spoke to local business people. He told the group that “there will be no quick fixes and it will take time” but that it was very important the community became involved.

“This has to be a plan of the people of Port - achievable and deliverable. No one else is going to do it,” he said.

Stakeholders in the project include Laois and Offaly County Councils, Laois Partnership, Offaly Local Development Company, Portarlington Enterprise Centre, Portarlington Jobs Club, Portarlington Credit Union, Portarlington Traders and the Portarlington Community Development Association.