Frustration in Offaly village with unfinished work with 'no real end in sight'
According to one local councillor, an 'element of frustration' is being felt within the local community in Kinnitty where people were being left dealing with cones and barriers since last June after works, under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme stalled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Speaking at the recent monthly meeting of Birr Municipal District, Cllr John Clendennen raised the issue with council officials.
“We thought we had learnt from the first town and village renewal project. We seem to be making the same mistakes again where accesses are being blocked.
“We are seeing unfinished work and we are seeing barriers and cones being left up for prolonged periods of time and there is no real end in sight. I think when local communities see a footpath that is lending to nowhere it leads to more questions then answers and it turns a positive story, potentially, into a negative.
“I think if we can set one objective for 2021 I think we need to really up our game and set out a strategy on we are going to engage with local communities when we do have good work going on. We have almost one million euro in the pipe line in terms of capital infrastructure and development works to enhance nearly every town and village and I think we need to look at introducing 'masterplans' that we can put the plan on a pole or a wall and let local communities beyond just the local residents be able to see what is happening.
Cllr Clendennen stated, “I think we need to up our engagement in terms of letting people see what the finished article is in relation to these projects. When footpaths are not finished prior to Christmas and then left for prolong periods and then Covid-19 hits, we could be looking at March, April, May or June but this is actually wound up. I think what we need to do is see a masterplans and defined timelines on how long it is going to take a town/village renewal project, to be, not just started but also finished. I hope that today we get a commitment or a time line on when barriers, working material, cones can be removed from thevillage and we can make this a better process going forward. So that we can keep communities on our side and continue to engage with them.
“ I don't want to overshadow the positivity but at the same time we have to address concerns of local communities when these are raised and try and keep people on board over the course of the disruption. No matter what we do, there is going be an inconvenience and I totally understand that but I think that we could do more to get people on board in advance.”
Responding to Cllr Clendennen's concerns, John Mitchell, Senior Executive Engineer, said he wasn't aware of any accesses being blocked or untidiness in the village.
“But if there is and if there is going to be a prolonged period now where we are going to be off site, we will ensure that the village is tidy. It was our attention to do more works there. The works that are going on in Kinnitty at the moment is actually part of a 2018 funding scheme that we are trying to deliver and intended to have it done by first quarter of the year. We have the contractor scheduled to go back. But this is going to delayed but we will ensure that the place is tidy.”
Also addressing the issue, Ann Dillon, Senior Executive Officer, outlined how it was hoped that some of the town and village works would have been completed.
“We are disappointed that construction, non essential has been stopped due to level 5 covid restrictions. Another couple of weeks would have seen us out a number of projects. Unfortunately, that is the position that we find ourselves in. We do try and work with communities. There has been a lot engagement across all town and village renewal projects.
“But we take the point that there is always room for improvement and perhaps, if we were starting again it is good through the town and village to start with a masterplan, which has worked well in bigger towns. We take the point onboard but some of it is beyond our control.”
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