Thursday, April 12, 2018

€1.5 MILLION for Tullow has been put in jeopardy after a council cock-up stopped a new traffic layout dead in the water.

Carlow County Council is scrambling to save the project this week after a chief executive’s report on the proposal was not presented to councillors in time.

The new traffic plan would have seen pedestrian walkways installed at the bridge in Tullow and the introduction of a one-way system at Abbey Street and Hawkins Lane.

The project has already been controversial, with the one-way system meeting strong opposition locally.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is funding the project. However, the money is only secured until the end of 2018, with no guarantee beyond that date.

The current drama arose after the deadline for public submissions closed on 15 December last.

The chief executive Kathleen Holohan is obliged to submit a report to councillors within eight weeks of that date under Section 29 of the Planning and Development and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, which was enacted last July.

This section amended earlier legalisation, which had enabled the county manager to make a report after the submission stage.

It’s clear this crucial amendment was not heeded.

The chief executive’s report should have been submitted to councillors by 9 February but was only set to come up at this month’s meeting, which was held yesterday, Monday 9 April.

News emerged of the error last week, but councillors remained tight-lipped before yesterday’s meeting. However, it’s understood there was widespread anger over the bungled plan and how senior management were running the council.

One councillor described it as “sheer bloody incompetence” at how the mistake could have been made.

Carlow County Council told The Nationalist that work would begin at the earliest opportunity to restart the process.

It’s anticipated that only the footbridge will go forward in the revised plans and the controversial one-way street plan would be scrapped.

In a statement, the council said it hoped to recommence the process with newspaper advertisements next week as required by Part VIII of the process.

The council said it “should still be possible” to have the contract begin in 2018 if the scheme was approved in June or July. There is no certainty about funding if the project drags on beyond 2018 and TII declined to comment on the matter.

Chief executive Kathleen Holohan and the council declined to comment on criticism of management.

There is also alarm in Tullow at the thought that works could be carried out around Christmas.

Kevin Nolan of Abbey Stores, a critic of the proposed one-way traffic plan, said this was unacceptable.

“If they try to do work at Christmas time, it’s not going to happen. They can feck off! It’s the busiest time of the year for us,” he said.

“I don’t know what’s going on at the minute and I don’t think the council know themselves. If they had just gone with just bridge at the very start they would have it done by now. Instead they went with this rubbish of a new traffic plan and look where it’s gotten them.”

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By Michael Tracey
Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

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