From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
Western People 27 August 2003
By The Jaundiced Eye
30, Aug 2003 - 11:21

County Plan to be adopted by end of year

An appeal to extend the display period for consideration of submissions on the amended draft county development plan has been turned down by Mayo county council. The appeal had been made by Mr Stephen Finn, chairman of the Mayo branch of the Rural Dwellers Association. Mr Finn had expressed concern that the Draft amendments were available only in CD format and he called on the council to ensure that printed copies of the draft plan and the amendments was made available for public inspection. He suggested that the consultation process would be flawed if a written copy of the amendments were not available and called for the display period to be extended. However Mr John Condon yesterday rejected the call to extend the period. He said the display period would conclude on Sept 5th and then the council would have a number of weeks to consider the submission made.

That 5th of September deadline is coming up fast so get your copy of the CD and make your comments if you are interested in how Mayo is going to live or die over the next few decades. Crucial stuff this. I have written here before about the dangers of having an actual majority of the 31 County Councillors heavily involved, professionally, in the land and auctioneering businesses. A priori, the elected County Council appears to be totally comprised when dealing with planning issues. The majority have a financial vested interest in hiking up the price of land, in putting houses in completely inappropriate places (because they own the land or because they are selling the land). So don’t be surprised when development comes to your neck of the woods destroying whatever tourism potential the county has and generally making your life more uncomfortable and your drinking water more dangerous. Will they fill out all those ugly fields in the gaps between houses along the Castlebar and Westport? Will Lough Conn go completely green doing for the few remaining trout in it? Will every field between Castlebar and Westport eventually have a house on it? Yes I suspect is the answer to all of the above as long as we elect people who have a financial interest in planning issues and land rezoning. Effectively every rural site outside of proper villages that gets planning permission for a house is a mini-rezoning of agricultural land. In Dublin the developers were caught putting money into the pockets of the politicians. In Mayo an actual majority of the politicians can be seen as being both politicians and developers - land owners or auctioneers. So read the plan carefully - with a jaundiced eye - remembering that supposedly over 1000 amendments have been made to the original draft by these guys and gals.

CE Scheme cuts set to bite

The Fine Gael Leader, Deputy Enda Kenny has said his Party will put the Government under pressure on the issue of community employment scheme cutbacks when the Dáil resumes next month. "Fine Gael will be calling on the Tánaiste, Mary Harney, and the Government to prioritise community activities through FÁS programmes in the 2004 Estimates," the Fine Gael Leader said. "Community groups throughout Mayo face reductions in participant numbers and even closure in October when cutbacks in Community Employment and Job Initiative Schemes begin to bite," Deputy Kenny warned. He added that the Tánaiste had effectively taken a hatchet to Community Employment Schemes which would see participation fall from 40,000 to 20,000 nationally by the end of the year. The Job Initiative Scheme was also being severely curtailed. "The number of people on Community Employment (CE) Schemes nationally has already fallen by a third since last year, and the Government’s Estimates of Expenditure for 2003 provides for only 20,000 places on CE Schemes, a reduction of 50 per-cent," said Deputy Kenny.

This is a real dose of Thatcherism from the PDs and FF. All the opposition politicians are reported in the papers this week as being agin this one. Funny not much from FF though? Valuable work has been done in Castlebar and in rural areas generally under the auspices of the CE schemes. In virtually every case this is work that market forces would not allow for but, nonetheless, needed to be done. The net cost will far outweigh the savings. The works now being done will not be done in the future because no commercial employer will pay for such things as cleaning up graveyards, rebuilding stone walls, looking after deprived children, creating new tourism projects and the many other socially useful jobs undertaken by the CE schemes. Unfortunately the alternative - voluntary work on these kind of projects - is a thing of the past. We commute too far to work. We work longer hours. We have to pay for our inflated mortgages (see above) and for items such as car insurance so we are too knackered to go out cleaning up graveyards when we do get home from work.

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