Commenting further on Minister Hogan’s Local Government Reform Proposals announced yesterday, the Green Party welcomes the proposals to introduce plebiscites, town and area meetings, community forums and wider participative planning methodologies but criticize the lack of any substance to the proposals and lack of either financial or staff resources to such proposals.
‘Meaningful community participation in local decision making does however require having the right resources. I don’t see how the Minister can propose an entire shift in how local authorities interact with the people they serve, while at the same time planning further cuts in staffing and boasting that his reform programme will net €420 million in savings to the exchequer’ said Green Party Spokesperson for Environment, Community and Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan.
‘If anything such an approach will require extra staffing as such expertise cannot be easily transferred from Water Services or Waste Management to the Community and Enterprise section. In order to engage in such an expansive project, Local Authorities will need to either employ or train a specific skillsets aimed at activating and empowering communities that have been starved of meaningful involvement in decision making for decades’ he said.
The Green Party has stated further that there may be merit in retaining town councils on a completely voluntary basis; led by community leaders, chambers of commerce, voluntary groups and in particular youth councils and youth organizations. ‘Such models exist in many EU States but do require resources to support their work. Community led town councils could have a powerful role in policy making and community engagement and would be no threat to the elected member of County Councils’ said Cllr Noonan.
‘Minister Hogan’s wider proposals represent a real loss of democratic sovereignty and accountability at a political level. Meaningful community participation, using the sort of community structures that the Green Party is proposing, could play a vital role in redressing the power imbalance that now exists. There might be a short term cost in running the sort of participative democratic events that were held by the ‘We the citizens’ initiative last year but the gains from better resolution of local planning disputes and better decision making would be far greater.’ concluded Cllr Noonan.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan
Green Party Spokesperson
Environment Community and Local Government
086 839 9418
This is a press release I issued following the Borough Council’s purchase of St Mary’s Church and Graveyard. I have to say, I felt very proud signing the purchase agreement and to have played a part in bringing this day about. The Church of Ireland and trustees of St Mary’s have to be commended for taking care of it for so long under difficult circumstances. This site sparked my imagination at a very young age. The possibilites around its development and re connection with the civic quarter of the Tholsel are endless, a museum, wildlife garden, community centre, but most of all we can consolidate this beautiful part of the city for locals and visitors to enjoy, a lovely Christmas present. Happy New Year everyone had here’s to another great year for Kilkenny!
The acquisition of St Mary’s church and graveyard in Kilkenny City caps a great end to Kilkenny’s historic 400 celebrations in 2009. That’s according to Kilkenny’s Mayor Malcolm Noonan. In welcoming the allocation of 700, 000 in funding from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mayor Noonan acknowledged the priority given to the site by his colleague, Environment Minister, John Gormley following his visit in November.
‘I am encouraged that the allocation of this funding will now secure the long term viability of St Mary’s and establish it as a key heritage site in Kilkenny, linked to the Tholsel. As an ecclesiastical site, St Mary’s is important as St Canice’s Cathedral. It contains many monuments and features of international interest. I am delighted to have been involved in this process, particularly as I had set it out as a key priority in my agenda for my year as Mayor’ said Mayor Noonan.
Mayor Noonan acknowledged the funding support of the Heritage Council and the elected members of Kilkenny Borough Council. He also paid tribute to the Church of Ireland for their efforts in maintaining the property under very difficult circumstances for many years. ‘I now hope that the purchase of the church and graveyard will endorse the implementation of the Conservation Plan. While some work is underway on certain monuments, we will be looking at a long term strategy to present the site in an imaginative way that will build on the City’s rich built and cultural heritage’ he said.
‘Key to that development will be the reconnection of St Mary’s and the Tholsel perhaps beginning with the re opening of the arched gate connecting both properties. I envision both sites as a single heritage area, developing a medieval museum, re presenting the city charters and documents and creating a habitat around the graveyard, while giving the public access to the stunning array of tombs and monuments contained in it’ said Mayor Noonan.
‘However that is work for another day. This is a good day for Kilkenny. Our strongest asset is our heritage, and we have now secured the missing link in that heritage. I would like to pay tribute to the county manager, Joe Crockett and all of the stakeholders involved in this process. The cooperation of everyone involved has allowed us to avail of this funding opportunity and take ownership of this historic gem in the heart of medieval Kilkenny’ he concluded.
Following the decision by An Bord Pleanala to refuse planning for a major retail development at the former Mart site in Kilkenny City, Mayor Malcolm Noonan is calling on Kilkenny County Council to abandon plans for a redesigned bridge as part of the Central Access Scheme. He contends that the re design of the bridge and Environmental Impact Statement now represents an undue financial burden on the local authority and may never be constructed in light of the refusal of the citymart development.
‘I would largely agree with An Bord Pleanala’s decision, this is an edge of town site and a retail development on this scale could have potentially damaged the core retail area and city centre. While the short term construction jobs would have been most welcome, it is unlikely in the current climate that all of the development would have proceeded and I would now hope that that the project proposers will go back to the drawing board with a scaled down plan for the site that is more in keeping with the future needs of the city’ he said. He also said that the project failed to adequately address new planning and retail guidelines on edge of town and out of town retail developments and the damage they can do to town centres.
Mayor Noonan also stated that the Central Access Scheme (CAS) is so compromised now that it should be scrapped in favour of the completion of the outer ring road and the implementation of a public transport scheme and other mobility measures to service future needs of the city including the mart site. ‘The redesign of the bridge cannot be justified on cost grounds while our water infrastructure requires so much investment and our library services are chronically under funded. The CAS has already cost us signifiacnt financial and time resources and we the elected members have not been furnished with a costing for the re design of the bridge crossing’ he said.
He said that the decision to refuse the current proposal for the mart site should be viewed as an opportunity to look at the entire scheme, road infrastructure, connectivity and consolidating the city centre. ‘Kilkenny has been relatively fortunate, we didn’t over do out of town retail like other towns in the region. Many places like Clonmel and Carlow are suffering because of an over proliferation of retail on the edge of their towns. Kilkenny has a fantastic opportunity to get it right. I would hope that an imaginative re designed plan for the citymart site with a good mix of social and commercial infrastructure will protect our beautiful city while creating much needed employment’ he concluded.
September16th to 22nd is European Mobility Week and Kilkenny as a registered participating city has a journey to go in becoming a model for sustainable transport, walking and cycling. Kilkenny Mayor Malcolm Noonan is confident that Kilkenny can become a leader among regional towns in reducing car dependency and moving towards walking and cycling.
Mayor Noonan is calling on Kilkenny people to take advantage of the good weather this week and make extra efforts to walk, cycle and car pool where possible. ‘The theme of this years mobility week is ‘Improving City Climates’ and there is growing evidence that vehicle emissions in urban areas is causing an increased incidence of respiratory illness in children and older people. Cutting down on car use will reduce these emissions and help create healthier communities through more exercise’ he stated.
The Mayor is hopeful that a number of ‘walking bus’ schemes for schools will be set up over coming months. And with the Mobility Plan for the city up for consideration at next Monday’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council, there are many reasons to be positive about Kilkenny’s ambitions to create a healthier environment for the city s children.
On Sunday 20th of September, a half marathon will take place through the city’s streets as a ‘Car Free Sunday’ event. It will commence at 11am in Irishtown and finish on the River Nore Linear Park at riverside drive. There will be a fun run element to the event so the organisers are hopeful the good weather will bring out participants. Mayor Noonan praised the organisers of the event saying the growing interest in leisure cycling and mini marathons is the type of activity that will encourage reduced car useage and is a positive message from Kilkenny as we replace runners with cars on the city’s main street if only for one day.
‘400 years ago, traffic emissions were not an issue on Kilkenny’s historic streets. We can return our streets to the people but there has to be a massive shift in mindsets to achieve this. Its our role as local authorities to provide public transport and cycle lanes but people will have to join us in making Kilkenny a healthier city. I would urge everyone to make an effort to reduce unnecessary car journey’s he concluded.
Further information can be got at; www.mobilityweek.eu
By now the fruit tree project has well and truly started. We began planting in with Sean O hArgain, Muniteoiri agus na Paisti. It was such a great day and our little orchard will hopefully mature over coming years. On Thursday 5th of March, I planted six trees with sixth class and my son Colm who is in Junior infants at St Canice’s National School. Then it was on to the Castle Park on Friday for the main event. What a great turnout and we had a film crew from Glass Eye Productions in Thomastown. I hope to have footage of this up on this site when the edit is complete.
Finally I went to the Model School on the Comer Rd and prepared the planting holes for the parents who were coming in on the Saturday. I had to be in Wexford at our Party Conference on that day so I haven’t gone back to see how they got on yet.
All in all it has been a really inspiring project, one that I hope will leave a lasting mark on the 400 celebrations. Here’s the press release I put out that week, we will be back in Autumn to complete the planting.
Celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the signing of the City Charter will take place this week in schools around the city and will culminate in the planting of an orchard in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle. The 400 fruit tree project will see the planting of orchards around the city to leave a lasting legacy of the 400 celebrations.
Speaking on the significance of the event, steering committee member, Cllr Malcolm Noonan stated that it was particularly poignant given that the theme of this years National Tree Week is ‘Our Trees, Our Culture’. ‘Kilkenny City and County is steeped in a tradition of growing and self reliance and this project seeks to reconnect communities with growing our own food, while enhancing wildlife in our urban areas’.
Three primary schools will take part in the first phase of the project, Gaelscoil Osraí, St Canice’s National School and The Model School and will plant small orchards of old native varieties of fruit trees including one native to County Kilkenny. On Friday March 6th, a group of twenty trees will be planted on the grounds of Kilkenny Castle formally marking the start of the project.
Brian Dillon of Future Proof Kilkenny who are involved in the coordination of the project acknowledged the support of Kilkenny Local Authorities, the OPW and other partner organisations and schools. ‘Claire Murphy of Kilkenny County Council has been instrumental in sourcing the right trees and we are most grateful for the support of the Local Authority and the 400 Celebrations Committee. Also the OPW have been most supportive of this project since it was first mooted’ he stated.
Elaine Bradshaw of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful is hopeful that the project will enhance Kilkenny’s chances in this year’s tidy towns, particularly under the wildlife and biodiversity categories.
It is hoped that the project will be completed in late autumn 2009 and the committee will be announcing a sponsor an orchard scheme to raise further funds to complete the planting. They are also hoping to identify more suitable sites throughout the City that are secure and will be well maintained.
A big thanks to everyone who showed up in the cold this morning to help out with my Nore Clean up event. It was lovely to meet with like minded people, particularly those who are new to Kilkenny and feel as strongly as I do about the presence of plastic and other toxic materials in our natural environment. Also hats off to my colleague on the Borough Council, Betty Manning for helping out.
We collected a big triailer with over thirty bags, traffic cones, bins, trolleys, and a bong! No, I didn’t keep it! We also had help from Elaine Bradshaw from KKB and a lovely gentleman from Kilkenny Water Safety. The canoe club couldn’t make it but have offered to help out on the next one.
I was talking as we were cleaning to a guy from Philadelphia, Brian was his name. Anyway, he was blown away by the river and its setting. He’s just moved here with his family and he loves Kilkenny, thats encouraging to those of us who are here so long and sometimes despair at our collective lack of ambition and vision for this city.
After we’d done, we had a cuppa and some of Liam Scotts homemade Cadburys cakes. There was a general consensus that we’d all like to do this on a regualar basis. I missed doing these things, it was all I did when I was in Earthwatch and I loved all that activist stuff. Hey, and that was during a recession too! Also I had watched a horrific documentary during the week about the volumes of plastic in the marine environment. It is literally decimating marine life and by default as the last link in the food chain, us as well. I’m making it my goal to continue to remove as much plastic from my local environment as possible. Its simple, just pick as ye go, put it in your pocket and bring it home for recycling.
Enough ranting. I’m not just posting press releases on this site now by the way, the rants are going up too. My IT Guy (congrats on becoming a daddy, Paul!) said I need a facebook, Bebo and Myspace! I haven’t time, might do a myspace for the music though