All posts by Marcia D'Alton

Submission to the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy

I need your help! Consultation on the draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy ends on Friday at 5pm. This is the document that outlines the future of bus services, rail services, greenway provision, roads and more throughout the whole Cork Metropolitan Area. It is the first time in as long as I can remember that the NTA has actually INVITED the Cork public to connect with them in a meaningful way. We need to have our voices heard about provision of public transport to Passage West and Monkstown. I am drafting my own submission but many voices are so much louder than one. Please could you use as many or all of the points below as you wish to make your own submission. Copy them directly from the text at the bottom here or print them off from the link below – they’re yours to use however you wish. We haven’t much time so do whatever is easiest for you. Just do please make a submission!
 
Email: corktransport@nationaltransport.ie
Post: Cork Metropolitian Area Transport Strategy,
National Transport Authority,
Dún Scéine,
Harcourt Lane,
Dublin 2, D02 WT20.
Link to sample submission: CMATS public letter

Submission to the National Transport Authority (NTA) on the draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS)

As a resident of [………………..], I ask that the National Transport Authority would consider the following in the context of the current consultation on the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study:

  • The frequency of the current 223 service needs to be increased to at least every half hour. Delivery of this increased frequency is needed now and cannot wait for implementation of the CMATS proposals.
  • Double decker buses are necessary on the current 223 service during peak times. At present, passengers regularly stand when commuting. This puts the safety and welfare of passengers at unacceptable risk.  Full buses can pass those waiting at bus-stops without pulling in, often leaving passengers waiting a full hour for the next service.  This is not acceptable.  Improvements in this regard are needed now and cannot wait for implementation of the CMATS proposals.
  • Reliability of the current 223 service has been an ongoing issue. Buses need to turn up on time, not early or late.  Genuine and accurate real time data is essential. Buses need to pull in at all stops. It is vital that buses complete their full route.  At present if buses are behind schedule they can “forget” to service Church Hill, Passage West. If drivers have reached their permitted hours, the bus can simply stop although the route is not complete, thereby leaving passengers stranded.  Improvements in this regard are needed now and cannot wait for implementation of the CMATS proposals.
  • Although it has been promised for years, there is no direct bus connecting Passage West to Carrigaline.Neither is it indicated in the CMATS proposals.  Delivery of this bus route is past critical.  Essential services for Passage West have been closed and moved to Carrigaline.  Public health and social welfare services which impact the most vulnerable of our residents are now delivered for Passage West out of Carrigaline.  It is a core part of the NTA’s remit that public transport is provided to essential services.  A direct bus service between Passage West and Carrigaline is needed now and cannot wait for implementation of the CMATS proposals.
  • Throughout the 19thcentury and into the early part of the 20thcentury, public transport was effectively and efficiently delivered between Cork City and the harbour towns by a steamer service operating in Cork Harbour. The opportunity for public transport by water has not been considered in CMATS and needs to form an essential part of future public transport proposals for this part of Cork.
  • Early delivery of the train station at Ballynoe is essential for improving public transport options in Passage West/Monkstown. It would enable residents of Passage West and Monkstown to efficiently and effectively use the rail line connecting Cobh and Cork City.  I ask that delivery of the Ballynoe train station would be a priority of CMATS.
  • The Cross River Ferry is an essential part of transport delivery in this part of Cork and particularly in Passage West, Monkstown and Cobh. I ask that it would be considered as an integral part of the CMATS considerations.
  • The existing greenway from Passage West to Cork City is a valuable sustainable transport resource.It needs to be extended so that it provides safe connectivity for cyclists to Ringaskiddy and to Carrigaline.  I ask that delivery of this Cork Harbour Greenway would be a priority of CMATS.
  • Early delivery of bus priority between Rochestown and Cork City is essential if public transport is to provide a reliable alternative to the car. At present, frequent congestion means that the existing bus service does not provide that reliable alternative.  I ask that early delivery of this bus priority would be a recognised aim of CMATS.
  • The NTA takes decisions on all aspects of our public bus service that can deeply affect the everyday welfare of people living in this part of Cork. Even simple service improvements like bus shelters are a decision of the NTA.  Yet the NTA is Dublin-based and Dublin-focused.  Communication with the NTA is difficult and at a distance.  It is a matter of urgency that the NTA would establish an office in Cork. This is needed now and cannot wait for delivery of CMATS.

Yours faithfully,

[…………….. NAME………………..]

My motion to full Council on creating the post of Tree Protection Officer, 10-06-2019

Mine was the dubious landmark of having submitted the first motion of our new Council term. I proposed that Cork County Council would create the post of a Tree Protection Officer. In hindsight, I should have used the term “Tree Officer” instead because the concept would be that the role of such an individual would be not just to optimise the protection of existing valuable trees but also to provide professional advice on when trees become dangerous, pruning/maintenance, planting of appropriate species, disputes about trees on shared boundaries, etc. That’s the kind of remit similar roles in UK local authorities have. It was considered at full Council on Monday and received cross-party support. The Chief Executive has the ultimate say when it comes to staffing. He has suggested that the proposal would go to the Environment Strategic Policy Committee for the practicalities to be fleshed out. So that is what will happen next. The introduction to my motion (at the link below) included an outline of some of the extraordinary and sometimes unconsidered multifaceted benefits of trees. They are essentially an intergenerational piece of infrastructure. We have whole Directorates dedicated to other intergenerational pieces of infrastructure!!!

Introduction to motion: Motion

My motion to full Council on the Climate Emergency Bill, 11 March 2019

That Cork County Council asks the government, and members  of the Joint Committee on Communications Climate Action and Environment (both TDs and Senators) to bring the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill before the Dáil for consideration such that in this time of climate emergency it may be considered for passing into legislation, with or without appropriate amendments, without delay as an acknowledgment of the fact that we face a climate emergency and cannot hope to limit global temperature rises without leaving 80% of already  proven reserves in the ground.

Introduction to motion:

In February 2018, a year ago, a Dáil majority voted to support the principle of the Climate Emergency Bill which calls for a ban on the issuing of licences for exploration of fossil fuels off Ireland’s coasts.  The Dáil unanimously agreed to refer the Bill to the relevant Select Committee of TDs for detailed scrutiny.  Senators were included in the deliberations.  In December 2018, the committee was expected to send a report to the Dail and the Bill would then have gone to another committee for any amendments.  But the Joint Committee was deadlocked and since then the Bill has been caught in a procedural dispute as to whether it needs a majority of the Joint Committee of TDs and Senators to progress it or just a majority of the Select Committee of TDs only.

We are in a climate emergency.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) has warned that the next ten years will be the most important in our history in making a fast and fair transition to a decarbonised economy.

If we exploit all the fossil fuel reserves already on the books of fossil fuel companies, it would result in a rise in global temperatures well in excess of the temperature limits agreed to in the Paris Agreement. The expert consensus is that 80% already-known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to limit global warming to 2 degC.  It makes no sense to explore for more fossil fuels that cannot be burned.

Ireland’s current path will see us missing our 2020 climate and energy emission reduction targets.  Rather than decrease, our greenhouse gas emissions actually increased by 7% since 2015.  If we continue as we are, it will be virtually impossible to make our 2030 targets.  Enacting this Bill would send a global signal that Ireland recognises that the world is in a state of climate emergency, that the next decade is critical and that we will pursue our energy security, jobs and other social and economic goals without the option of new fossil fuel reserve development.

If we do this, Ireland would be the fifth country globally to ban fossil fuel exploration.  In France in 2017, for example, legislation was passed to end new licences for fossil fuel exploration and to cease all oil and gas extraction by 2040.

People all around Ireland and around the world recognise that we are in a climate emergency.  Tens of thousands of people will take part in climate marches at the end of this week.  And yet the Climate Emergency Bill is stuck in a procedural limbo such that it cannot be voted on by the legislators whom those same people voted into office.

I am asking for your support for:

  1. Amend the motion slightly to better reflect that state of climate emergency:

That Cork County Council asks the government, and members  of the Joint Committee on Communications Climate Action and Environment (both TDs and Senators) to bring the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill before the Dáil for consideration such that in this time of climate emergency it may be considered for passing into legislation, with or without appropriate amendments, without delay as an acknowledgment of the fact that we face a climate emergency and cannot hope to limit global temperature rises without leaving 80% of already  proven reserves in the ground.

  1. Circulate the motion to all local authorities such that their elected members can also reflect the desire of their electorate in supporting actions that commit Ireland to acting on the current climate emergency.

I agree with Cllr O’Sullivan’s suggestion that we would send a message of support to the students on Friday.  We can make it clear to them that at least we as their local government representatives are aware of the current climate emergency.

South Cork Community Development Initiative projects

Please click on this link for a full list of the 67 community and sporting groups in South Cork who have received funding from Cork County Council‘s LCDC Community Development Initiative 2019:
The Fund was massively oversubscribed. In South Cork, 118 applications to a value of €1.7m were received; the fund available for distribution was €500,000.  Throughout the whole county, Cork County Council received 420 applications to a value of €5.7m.  The total fund available for the county at large was €1.5m. 

My submission to An Bord Pleanála re. the proposed Morrison’s Island project

I had but 24 hours to put together a submission to An Bord Pleanála in respect of Cork City Council’s proposed flood defence/public realm works at Morrison’s Island.  I used all 24 of them and had I had 3 times that, could have used all of that too!  However, time being what it was, my submission had to be a distillation of my gravest concerns,  You can read them here: Submission to ABP.  It was hard not to also mention that which perplexes me most: with the finest minds from a multiplicity of disciplines advising that the Morrison’s Island project is not what is best for Cork, why are Cork City Council and the OPW not listening?  We can only hope that An Bord Pleanála will.

  

My motion to full Council on housing for the elderly, 14th January, 2019

“That Cork County Council would carry out an assessment of sheltered housing for the elderly, both public and private, currently available in each town in the county and that, arising from this assessment, Cork County Council would adopt the following policies:

  1. It will be a specific objective of the County Development Plan to provide for sheltered housing for the elderly in every town in the county.
  2. The range of sheltered housing to be provided will allow for both independent and supported living.
  3. The sheltered housing will be provided close to the town centre and/or services and amenities.
  4. The number of sheltered housing units to be provided will be an appropriate proportion of the population of each town.
  5. The Local Area Plan for each Municipal District will identify areas in each town appropriate for the provision of sheltered housing for the elderly.”

The age profile of the Irish population is increasing.  The last Census (2016) saw an increase of over 19% in people aged over 65.  There was also a 15.6% increase in the number of people aged over 85.  This is a huge success story in terms of lifestyle and health but our national and local policies must recognise the implications of this demographic shift and start planning for it now so that we can as a nation embrace rather than fear growing older.

Research carried out by the charity, Alone found that 49% of people aged 60 live alone, more than half in private homes.  Of those, almost 59% live in a house with five rooms or more.

At the same time there are almost 23,000 people in nursing homes.  That is 3.7% of the over 65 population and that percentage continues to increase. In research undertaken in 2017, some of those living in nursing home facilities reported that they moved there because they were alone and could not or did not want to manage their own home any longer.  Despite this, 80% of older adults are negative towards moving into a nursing home (Age Friendly Ireland, 2016).  It is estimated that the cost to the Fair Deal scheme will increase by an additional €729 million annually by 2031 as a result of demographic changes (Alone).

Older people want to age in place but without a choice of appropriate housing, many cannot.  That housing needs to be offered across a spectrum, open to all older people, regardless of whether they qualify for social housing or whether they can avail of private options.  It needs to include both purpose-built homes, dispersed in the community and dedicated sheltered housing in shared and supported schemes.

Community-based supports are critical for all of us but even more important for older people who need to live in close proximity to their family, their social networks, to public transport and other essential public services and to recreation opportunities.  Research indicates that 15% of those aged 65 or over would move to a different home within their community if they had the opportunity to do so. In the UK, this is called right-sizing.

Nobody is better placed to provide for appropriate opportunities for right-sizing to either independent or sheltered living than local authorities.  It takes foresight and planning to ensure that housing for older people is located close to their current homes so that they are not displaced from their communities and social networks.  Our opportunities to do this are at policy level in the County Development Plan and at a practical level in our Municipal Area Plans.

The Joint Housing Strategy requires our Development Plans at either County or Municipal level to include specific policies to secure a housing mix which considers the needs of special groups such as the elderly.  I am glad to hear that this is going to be developed further in the forthcoming review of the County Development Plan.  I would like to see us developing right-sizing policies for our social housing stock.  But what I am urgently seeking support for through this motion is for us as a local authority to ensure that each town has ample provision of a range of houses appropriate for aging.  To actively identify in our Local Area Plans town centre or close to town centre sites that are best placed to develop sheltered housing for the elderly.  I want this process to start now, not in 2024 when the next Local Area Plans are due.  I thank Maurice for his report and for his Department’s efforts.  It is very welcome that houses for older people are being provided through the Capital Assistance Scheme.  But as an example, there are 817 people over 65 in Bandon.  If, as research shows, 15% of these were willing to right-size, that is a requirement for 122 age-appropriate units.  If even half of that requirement were available in the community, the 9 house-scheme currently under construction through the Capital Assistance Scheme is a long way off what is necessary.  And in many cases it does not have to be the local authority or an approved housing body who provides the shortfall but it is necessary that the local authority would provide for them by ensuring appropriate lands in or adjacent to the town centre are identified and available.  If we don’t do this now, we won’t be able to do it.  Those valuable sites will be gone.

My submission to the road closure licence application for total closure of the R610 at Glenbrook

To whom it may concern

This submission pertains to the total road closure proposal advertised on 19thDecember for the R610 Glenbrook – Victoria Terrace/Bath Terrace/Sommerville Terrace from 12thJanuary – 4thMarch 2019.

I write on my own behalf and on the behalf of many others who have expressed their concerns to me with regard to this proposed closure which will sever the connection between the residents of Monkstown and their nearest services in Passage West.  It is also essential to point out in the strongest way possible that the service providers of Passage West depend upon the custom of the residents of Glenbrook and Monkstown and that of stopping passing traffic for survival of their businesses.  The proposed road closure would impact severely on the convenience of the people of Glenbrook and Monkstown and on the businesses of Passage West town centre.

For most of us the proposed total road closure is a temporary phase during which inconvenience must be minimised and safety must be maximised.  However for the businesses in Passage West town centre and in Monkstown, this proposed total closure follows over a year of sequential partial road closures and approximately three months of total road closures.  These ongoing restrictions in trade are a tremendous threat to their viability.  Several reported a 40% drop in turnover during a previous total road closure. Others either cut staff hours or laid off staff entirely.  For some of these businesses, implementation of the Lower Harbour drainage scheme may lead to permanent closure.  This is a heavy price for Passage West/Monkstown to pay for the beneficial gain of a wider audience.  Once again, I echo the calls of local businesses in asking that the County Council assists their survival with such practical measures as a rates reduction in the same way as the County Council is assisting Irish Water by their ongoing granting of road closure licences.

Specifically with regard to the current road closure application, I ask that Cork County Council would take the following considerations into account and condition the road closure licence accordingly.

  1. As in previous total closures of the R610, the applicant proposes to provide a shuttle bus through Passage West to connect with the regular diverted Bus Eireann service.The Bus Eireann service calls to Monkstown only once per hour during most of the daytime period when the R610 is to be totally closed.  Residents of Monkstown who would normally come to Passage West during the day for services would, rather than tackling the circuitous and higher risk back roads, most likely take their custom elsewhere.  Over the period of a proposed almost two-month closure, this would have a massively negative impact on businesses in Passage West.  To relieve the severity of this loss of custom, I ask that a regular shuttle bus connecting Monkstown, Glenbrook and Passage West would be scheduled for once every 15 minutes.  This service would supplement the hourly Bus Eireann service, thereby providing a realistic alternative to residents who would otherwise drive to Carrigaline or Douglas.
  1. One quarter of the children attending Scoil Barra Naofa (Monkstown primary school) live in Passage West or Glenbrook.There are many others who, although living in Monkstown, attend afterschool care either in private homes or in crèches in Passage West.  Parents driving to and from Monkstown school have already been significantly inconvenienced by road closures imposed in Passage West.  They have received no assistance from Irish Water or from Ward & Burke in overcoming this inconvenience.  The road closure now proposed for Glenbrook would present their greatest inconvenience to date.  They would endure the proposed partial closure of the R610 during the morning rush hour.  When collecting at either 1.30pm or 2.30pm, the R610 through Glenbrook would be totally closed. They would have no choice other than to use the back roads to get to Passage West.  Their most likely route from Scoil Barra Naofa would be up the Glen in Monkstown, along the back road to Rochestown Monastery and turning right at the monastery to re-enter Passage West via Church Hill.  The back road to the monastery is a narrow, winding road which necessitates careful, slow driving.  At several points along its length, two cars are unable to pass.  The inadequacy of this road to cope with diverted traffic has been well rehearsed in applications for previous total closures of the R610.  During the last total closure, traffic management relieved the danger of travelling the back road to the monastery.  Traffic management does not appear to be part of the current proposed total closure. Consequently the risk and inconvenience to Scoil Barra Naofa parents would again be unrecognised.  Foggy and icy weather is most frequently experienced during the January – March period and these are precisely the months during which the proposed total closure would force cars onto the elevated back roads.  At least some of this risk could be alleviated by the shuttle bus requested in 1. Above. It could be scheduled to serve Scoil Barra Naofa, particularly at school closing time.  Availability of a shuttle bus would would alleviate the risk of pushing cars onto the back roads and it would provide a realistic alternative to parents and minders who would have to endure this significant inconvenience for a period of almost two months.
  1. It is highly likely that Bailey’s Lane would be used as a rat-run to circumvent that area of the R610 which would be totally closed.No traffic management has been proposed for Bailey’s Lane.  This is not acceptable.  Bailey’s Lane is narrow.  It cannot take two-way traffic.  Residences along Bailey’s Lane have no footpath interface between their front gates and passing traffic.  Moreover, the structural condition of the road is questionable.  It is imperative that Bailey’s Lane is either closed entirely to all but residents or that it is used as an official diversion in the same way as Fair Hill was used in previous total closures of the R610.  It is not acceptable that the current laissez-faire, cross-our-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best approach would be adopted.  This approach would serve no-one’s interests other than those of the contractor.
  1. Should Bailey’s Lane be used as an official diversion similar to Fair Hill in the previous total closure of the R610, it would be fair recompense to the residents that traffic calming would be provided, perhaps in the form of ramps at the Passage West end.Traffic on Bailey’s Lane frequently travels far quicker than is safe or acceptable. To require the contractor to install traffic calming would be a long-term benefit to the residents and would compensate them for the risk and inconvenience of accommodating R610 traffic for what would be almost a two-month period.
  1. During the working week, it is proposed that the southbound lane of the R610 would be open during rush hour and during the night-time period.However the southbound lane of the R610 is often blocked by cars queuing for the Cross River Ferry.  Moreover during the evening rush hour, cars coming from Ringaskiddy/Monkstown are forced to do almost a U-turn to join the ferry queue.  This further slows the movement of the queue that stretches back to Glenbrook. If the only lane of the R610 to be opened is the southbound lane and that southbound lane were to be blocked by the ferry queue, there would be total impasse.  There simply is not adequate road width to do what is proposed. Cars coming from the south would be waiting at traffic lights to pass through the single open lane; cars waiting for the ferry would be queuing in the southbound lane; cars coming from Passage West town centre would be travelling through the single open lane.  It would be necessary that the contractor would actively manage traffic passing through the partial closure during rush-hour periods.  Traffic build-ups may also be alleviated if Doyle’s Shipping were to be required to ensure two vessels were servicing the crossing at all peak times.  It may also help if the County Council were to liaise with Doyle’s Shipping on their traffic management methodology which allows cars from Ringaskiddy no option other than to do that U-turn into the ferry queue.  I am mindful that whilst the applicant for this road closure licence is not Doyle’s Shipping, appropriate traffic management is a key consideration in Cork County Council’s permitting of the Cross River Ferry operation.
  1. Direct communication with residents living alongside the proposed works is critical and was not adequate during previous total road closures.  It is essential that one-to-one contact would be made with alladjacent homes.  A blanket leaflet drop is notsufficient.  It is equally critical that residents would be forewarned of days when works are expected to be additionally noisy, when dusty activities are due to take place, or when tides might favour working longer hours than proposed.  Again, such consultation notably did nottake place during previous closures despite commitments from the contractor. It is also essential that residents would receive adequate notice of any water outages.
  1. Emergency services mustbe effectivelynotified in advance of any future road closures. Our experience heretofore has been that although the central control office of the National Ambulance Service was informed of the road closure, notification did not filter down to the drivers.  In the case of this proposed closure, we have been advised by the contractor that direct contact was made before Christmas with the local emergency service office and that they will be provided with weekly updates.  However, although similar reassurances have been provided before, during previous total closures we were all beyond lucky that no tragedy resulted from the significant delays experienced when misinformed ambulances did not know how to reach emergency callouts.  This proposed Glenbrook closure is for an almost two month period.  There can be no room for misinformation or mixed messages.
  1. Experience from previoustotal road closuresin Passage West is that signage is critical.  During times of total closure, delivery trucks may attempt to reach Passage West town centre by using either the Lackaroe Road or the back road to the Monastery.Clear signage indicating that thisroad is not suitable for heavy vehicles will be necessary at the bottom of Carrigmahon Hill, at the Rochestown Inn junction, at Monastery Cross and on Church Hill.  It is also important that signage on the N28, N40 and at Rochestown would clearly indicate that through traffic into the town centre is possible and that Passage West town centre is indeed open for business.
  1. I have run out of words to describethe condition of the road surface between Raffeen and Glenbrook.Its condition is appalling and deteriorating.  Although supposedly temporary, some stretches are in place for almost two years.  I have received angry reports from residentswho have had to bear the costs of abnormal repairs to their cars, most particularly to their suspension systems.  I have received frustrated communications from cyclists who no longer use the R610 because it has simply become too dangerous for them.  This is all as a consequence of the appalling quality of these temporary road surfaces.  The temporary surface recently laid in Glenbrook is particularly dreadful.  I raised the quality of the Glenbrook surface as an unacceptable issue in my submission to the previous total closure of the R610.  I was contacted by a representative of the contractor who addressed each of the points of my submission in turn.  The contractor’s representative agreed with my criticism of the temporary surface in Glenbrook, acknowledged that this had been raised as an issue by others also and reassured me that it would be improved.  I cannot see any improvement nor that the contractor followed through on this commitment.
  1. The quality of clean-up after both total and partial closures has, to date, been abysmal.The centre of Monkstown village, particularly around the grassy island and Sandquay area remains like a construction site.  The soil on the island is rough and full of stones.  The area is littered.  The road is dirty.  The bus stop remains covered with a black plastic sack.  The road sign lies in the mud.  It is not acceptable.  Residents tolerate the construction phase of the project, knowing that it is essential to the installation of the Lower Harbour scheme.  It is absolutely unacceptable that any contractual footprint would remain post-construction.  It is essential when the works are underway in Glenbrook that the road would be regularly swept, that litter would be cleaned up and that when the works are complete, that the area would be returned to the status quo within a short period of days.

I should appreciate contact from either Cork County Council or the Lower Harbour drainage project team to address my concerns as outlined above.  I also expect that the procedures for road closure applications as outlined below and on the County Council’s website would be followed:

  • If any observations/objections are received, the applicant will be contacted in this regard and will be required to engage directlywith the Third Party to seek resolution to issues raised.
  • Once issues have been resolved, the Roads Authority needs written confirmation from the organiser of how objections/observations were addressed.  The Roads Authority may also seek confirmation from the Objector/s whether their needs have been satisfactorily addressed ….

To facilitate direct contact with myself with regard to these proposed closures of the R610 in Passage West, I confirm that I consent to the transfer of this information and my details to the applicant.

Regards,
Marcia D’Alton.

____________________________________
Marcia D’Alton
Independent Member, Cork County Council

Mobile: 085 – 7333852
Website: www.marciadalton.net
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cllrmarciadalton
Twitter: @marciadalton