Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Present Times.

In spite of August being a holiday time a number of things have been taken place both at home and abroad. I’ll mention one or two and promise not to say a word about Tribunals, or to be more specific ‘the Tribunal’!
Let’s start with Health. Professor Drumm and the consultants are still at loggerheads and the recent staff cut backs in hospitals are also causing much anguish with those at the coalface. The good professor wants to save money and one can hardly object to that, but listening in to radio and TV chat shows I didn’t hear or read about any cutbacks in the administration end of things. Starting with the good man himself who earns a tidy sum, could he set a good example by forfeiting his bonus of 80,000? Meself and a lot more like me could comfortable live off that kind of money and let the salary go to charity or wherever. Maybe I’m being hard on the man, but if you’re shouting for a bedpan in the middle of the night don’t expect someone from administration to come to your rescue. Mary of the Trolleys tells us that cut backs in nurses and doctors will not affect patient care: so where is the care to come from Mary, administration? Another innovative idea is to put patients up in Jury’s hotel thus freeing up hospital beds. This at the moment applies only to maternity cases, but could it be extended further and used for weekend drunks who clog up busy A&E departments? I’d nearly go on the tare meself just to spend a night in Jurys. A short while ago the Missus was in hospital for a minor operation. The original arrangement was, in on Sunday, operation on Monday, and all going well home in a day or two. Then she gets a phone call. Come in on Friday otherwise she will lose the bed. She was a bit miffed wasting two whole days twiddling her thumbs in hospital and taking up valuable bed space but she had no choice; it was either that or wait till God knows when for a bed. Multiply her situation by any figure you like and spread it over the whole country and you can get an idea of the efficiency of administration!
If you haven’t heard of David McWilliams by now you must be living the life of a hermit for he is all over the TV; Prime Time, chat shows and now has his own show on Monday nights. The verdict on his opinions is still with the jury. Some call him ‘prophet of doom’ others think he is spot on. I had the pleasure of listening to him in person at an eight o’clock breakfast recently. Driving several miles to get me breakfast was unusual for me; I normally just go downstairs, but this was different so I swallowed my displeasure and went along to hear what he had to say. Normally for me, a talk about economics is dull boring stuff, but he lightened it up with anecdotes and a lighthearted delivery. My first impression was that this fellow had done his homework and had well researched his subject matter and that’s a must for any public speaker Controversial yes, prophet of doom, no.
Basically he was telling us, or should I say those who are in charge of our destiny, (bankers planners and politicians) to get a grip, and pay heed to the changing scene not only in Ireland but worldwide. He spoke a lot about China; how it is becoming a world power, and its ability to produce products cheaper than us, mentioning that goods from there can reach here in fourteen hours. Ironically a trucker here was interviewed recently on radio about the port tunnel. He extolled its virtues if one was heading north, but if the delivery was south bound it could take the most of fourteen hours to get to its destination, highlighting the chaotic state of our highway systems. Our highways aren’t the only ones where chaos rules; just look at all the new housing estates that have been built in recent times with no apparent thought as to where the children from these estates are to be educated. The existing schools are chock a block, some of them having to resort to port a cabins to try and fit all in. These port a cabins are set down on existing playground space thus reducing recreational room for the kids. Who comes first in the order of merit when a green field site on the edge of town or village is to be developed for housing, the developer or planner? Does education come into the equation? Are the new residents expected to resort to home education, or remain celibate?
Promises promises from our planners and politicians about how everything will be in apple pie order in the year of dot is not sufficient if we are to keep abreast with the times that are in it, both at home and abroad. There are two sides to this equation; those with there heads in the sand mostly made up of bankers planners and politicians, and those who have their feet on the ground. The first crowd keep talking things up and quote statistics to make their case. It was Mark Twain who said, “facts are stubborn little creatures that refuse to go away, but statistics are more pliable”. Those who believe in facts are not necessary ‘doom and gloom’ merchants; they are realists who realise that our Celtic Tiger needs a good jockey if he is to stay on course. Have we got one? Yrs Jeffers.

Planning Applications turned down AGAIN
Divided opinion stalls future development?
Not surprisingly, Blackbourne Development’s application at Bishophill was turned down by Kildare County Council, citing several reasons for refusal including house design and layout, roads and safety, lack of sewerage treatment plant, concerns re. Topography, surface water etc. An edited report in the Leinster Leader recently quoted the CDA as leading the protest against this application; not so, it was the Concerned Residents’ Association who called a public meeting and put in a strong objection, as is their right. The site is accessed via a steep hill and bend, 73 houses on that site is too much – why, oh why did the developers stick in another proposal which virtually duplicated the previous one already refused by Kildare County Council and An Bord Pleanala?

What a bloody waste of time….. They made some modifications but very little with regard to the main concerns for the proposal being rejected in the first place. What if they revised the plan totally, changed the house design and reduced the numbers…. they would probably have been turned down anyway on lack of sewerage services but they might have had a plan ready to be approved when the treatment plant is eventually in place.

Armston Development were refused on one issue only – “pending the construction of a new Waster Water Treatment Plant and the upgrading of the sewer network in Ballymore Eustace due to the fact that the existing plant and foul sewer network is overloaded and cannot cater for flows generated by the proposed development.” This site is on a ‘flat’ area in comparison to the Bishophill development, offers safe pedestrian access to the village and is closely situated to the main Naas-Ballymore Eustace road. The latter causes some concern during school drop and collection times but again, many parents are still being downright stupid in the way they park in the mornings – they don’t seem to want to park further than 100 yards from the main entrance of the school and parking on the bend is pure dangerous.

Getting back to Armston’s proposed development, there are fourteen social & affordable houses within the plan, plus a proposed community centre, a private crèche and a green area which could be designated as a playground (Margaret McDonald, Fiona Breslin and myself met with representatives from Armston a couple of weeks ago), pending approval from Kildare County Council. Concerns about the River walk facility have been addressed and a footpath accessing that area is included in the updated application. There are many who like the stone façade and glass features on the house designs and others who hate them! I don’t know what constitutes a typical village home; I really don’t so I will leave that to the planners in Kildare County Council.

The community is divided on planning in Ballymore Eustace; some want more housing at any costs; others want housing under strict, monitored planning and others want no houses at all, full stop.
Which means we all have our eye off the ball. We have no sewerage treatment plant so no development will be passed irregardless of local opinion and we have no Local Area Plan. Take out a Bugle from 1998, 1999, 2000 up to this year and I will bet you will find an article somewhere talking about the illusive LOCAL AREA PLAN. It’s as far away as Ireland winning the World Cup in rugby or soccer.

Cllr Billy Hillis tells me that the compilation of our plan is further away now, as Sallins debates the location of their ring road. Had the Sallins local area plan been adapted more quickly, Ballymore was next on the list.
And there is no decision as yet on the location of new sewerage treatment plant at Coughlanstown although Billy feels that outcome will be announced shortly. So, let me ask those of you who are complaining about lack of development in Ballymore or those of you who are fed up objecting to repeated residential applications using unreasonable densities, what are you doing about it?
Maybe its time to kick up a proper stink, get some media attention, start pushing to have a local area plan for Ballymore prioritised – why can’t the planning department hire more staff to deal with drawing up area plans? Surely, there is more than Ballymore waiting in line?
You know what, I’m getting depressed writing this – and don’t’ ask what are the CDA doing about it, we send letters in regularly to Kildare County Council’s chief engineers and they go straight to the recycling bin…..
Stop arguing amongst ourselves as to what’s stopping development of any kind in Ballymore – no sewerage, no plan – no nothing.

- Rose B O Donoghue

2 Day Event

Tulfarris House Hotel


On Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November

For further details, contact Fiona Barrett at 087 6333 406
Or John Curry at 087 639 24 68

Ballymore Eustace
Community Development Association Ltd

The Community Development Association (CDA) has been active in recent months in attempting to refocus its efforts to make the village a better place to work, live and raise a family. Comprising a number of new members, the Association is working to encourage more local participation through the concept of building communities from the inside out. It is currently commissioning research into who and what make up the community of Ballymore Eustace through the use of a model called Asset Based Community Development. Through this, the CDA hopes to unearth all those hidden gems of the village, human and geographic, commercial and social, so that we can all get much more out of the fantastic environment we are privileged to live in.

Each living community boasts a unique combination of assets upon which to build its future. Everyone has something to give, and though many are reluctant to join committees, we know that there is a general willingness to row in as required. This is already demonstrated by the generous core of volunteers who turn out for Meals-on-Wheels, Tidy Towns, the Punchestown Festival, the production of the Bugle and many other undertakings. But we need that spirit of volunteerism to be maintained and nurtured, providing continuity of purpose and unflagging momentum.

Currently on our agenda is the construction of a much-needed playground in the village for younger children. Fiona Woods is leading the charge on getting a group of interested parents together who will help research the potential cost and location of such a facility. Following the lead from the parents of Blessington, we would like to provide a playground in the village where our children can play safely. Potential sites include the River Walk and Doran’s Meadow. A delegation from the CDA including Rose, Margaret and Fiona, met recently with representatives from the owners of the latter site, Armston Development, who agreed that a village green within the development be designated as usage for a community playground, pending agreement with Kildare County Council.

Another project currently under way is the publication of a Map of all the walks in and around the village, so that both visitors and locals can enjoy the beauty of the river and the countryside. The Map is the brainchild of Eric Firth and he tells me it will be available after Christmas. We would then hope to form a walking club to avail of this wonderful new asset to our environment. So polish up those walking boots!

A number of groups have come together to help the CDA prepare for the draft Area Plan which we expect will be issued by Kildare County Council next year. The committee advising the CDA on this is Maurice Mason and Eric Firth of the CDA, Stephen Deegan, Christy Dennison, Tom O’Keeffe and James Kelly. As in the past, the draft Plan will be available for public inspection/comment when the time comes and we encourage full participation in this process.

Tom O’Keeffe preparing a website for the village, so if you have any suggestions as to what should be included, give him a call on 086-818-6597.

As with any community endeavour, we can only be effective and relevant with your support and engagement. Please share your concerns, ideas and skills with us so that together we can improve our village and distil the best from it. Better still, go forward for membership of the CDA - feel free to come along to our AGM on Tuesday, 27th November, 2007 at 8pm, we’d love to hear from You.

- Maurice Mason

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