€1.2m area plan a ‘total waste’

The €1.2m costs relating to a new land use and transportation plan for the Mid-West came under fire yesterday.

The draft Mid-West Area Strategic Plan is currently being presented to local authorities in the region before an updated document is published.

A briefing document circulated to members of Clare County Council confirms the €1.2m cost to the taxpayer over a four to five-year period.

The document states that €600,000 was received from the Department of Transport, with the overall council cost at €184,000.

According to the document, the spend “should be viewed in the context of its 20-year life span and the extent of investment it is seeking to leverage”.

However, a member of Clare Co Council and the Mid-West Regional Authority, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) said yesterday: “The plan is a total waste of money. There have been too many plans for the Mid- West that have been produced and were never implemented and I’m afraid this is going to be another one.

“It is a real pity that this kind of money is being spent on a plan such as this when there are areas of public service that are being cut and could do with some genuine relief.”

Cllr Brian Meaney (Green Party) said: “It is a colossal amount of money to be spent on one plan.

“This is not a statutory document and I believe that lip service will be paid to the plan, that contains many aspirations, but is short on detail.

“I’m in favour of a more regional approach to planning but the regional government structures are not in place to achieve that.”

The plan states that an outcome of the strategy is a requirement for a significant public transport investment of €340m from 2012 to 2032 — and that excludes the cost of land, buses or trains.

The briefing document states: “Given the change in economic circumstances, it could be argued the necessity to do such a plan at the present time would not arise. The alternative view is that the need for such a plan is even more relevant given the current scarcity of resources and necessity to prioritise investment decisions.

“The purpose of the plan is to provide an evidence base which can inform transport and planning policy and infrastructure investments to 2030. It is to help guide decisions regarding the physical and spatial development.”

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