Government Asleep At The Wheel As Councils Bin Boundary Review Recommendations
4 April 2019
No local area plan and no implementation group formed, two years on from report publication
Senator Ged Nash said the government is asleep at the wheel as he claimed key recommendations from the Drogheda Boundary Review published over two years ago have been ‘binned’ by Louth & Meath County Councils. Senator Nash said: “The boundary review could have heralded a new start for Drogheda. Instead it was used to rubber stamp a policy of official neglect of the area. “The review which was published over two years ago bottled recommending a small extension of the Drogheda boundary into the Meath housing estates on the southern fringe of the town. “It instead proposed a series of initiatives and demanded that Meath and Louth County Councils formally work together on ‘cross-boundary’ issues. “Astonishingly, two years later not a single proposal from the review body has been implemented. “Councils have missed a two-year deadline to produce an agreed Local Area Plan for the development of the Meath environs of Drogheda and an 18-month deadline to produce a retail strategy for the area. “Similarly the proposal from the Review Commission that an ‘implementation group’ be established by the Councils to implement the recommendations of the review and to formalise working arrangements between Louth & Meath has also been binned. “Such blatant inaction by both Councils reflects poorly on the government, demonstrating a neglect not only of Drogheda, Ireland’s largest town, but also of the respective local authorities. “Furthermore, the clear failures of Louth and Meath management not to execute report recommendations of the independent boundary committee exposes weaknesses and inadequacies in government authority and poor political leadership and accountability. “It is simply not acceptable that both Councils would appear able to ignore government policies with such impunity and without any fear of sanction. “It is frankly pathetic that the Minister has now admitted that the only way he can make local councils work together is to introduce new statutory inter-authority arrangements under primary legislation. “The Boundary Review Committee clearly states that in the event of all recommendations failing to be implemented, the Minister should consider revisiting the option of extending the county boundary. The weakness of this current government makes that most unlikely and Drogheda continues to suffer. “The outcome of the Boundary Review has resulted in Drogheda remaining effectively almost as two towns rather than becoming one city, with all the administrative inefficiencies and lost opportunities that that entails. The potential for the town is not being fully realised due to the lack of coherence in integrated development planning for the town as a whole by Louth and Meath County Councils. “I stand ready to work with the Minister and local officials in ensuring the interests of the people of Drogheda and surrounding areas are protected. The time for excuses is over.” Ends. PQ reply below For Written Answer on :28/03/2019 Question Number(s): 215Question Reference(s): 14631/19 Department:Housing, Planning and Local Government ______________________________________________ QUESTION To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if Meath and Louth county councils have adopted a local area plan for the area of interest that was the subject of the Drogheda boundary commission report published in 2017; if an implementation group has been formed by both councils to implement the proposals from the review; if he is satisfied with progress to date on developing a unified vision for the area that was subject of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.REPLY The report of the Drogheda Boundary Committee was published in February 2017 and it recommended no change to the existing boundary, subject to the implementation of a programme of structured cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. Similar reports were produced at that time on Athlone, Carlow and Waterford. Gven the strategic importance of such towns and cities where development and population overspill across county boundaries has occurred, it is my intention to introduce statutory joint structures to address boundary issues. This would entail a framework of statutory requirements to deal with the development and other interests of the areas concerned, rather than alteration of county boundaries or reliance solely on existing inter-authority co-operation. This would mainly involve functions similar to those which might be performed through inter-authority arrangements but on a more comprehensive, permanent and formalised basis under primary legislation. It is envisaged that such urban area structures would have responsibility for certain key strategic matters beyond the existing standard functions of local authorities, especially in relation to spatial and economic planning and development and in relation to transportation strategy, forward planning and land use designation, retail strategy, and other such matters as the relevant local authorities agree. A specific local area plan has not been adopted for the cross-boundary area of Drogheda and, while an implementation group specifically targeting the Boundary Committee report is not established, there is strong ongoing cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. I have very recently met with the respective chief executives, and with chief executives from other local authorities with cross-boundary towns and cities, and I plan to make further progress on strengthened urban area structures for cross-boundary towns and cities in the coming months.