YOUGHAL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING APRIL 2012 – By Christy Parker
Present were Town Manager Patricia Power, Town Clerk Liam Ryan, Deputy Town Clerk Helen Mulcahy, Town Engineer Paul Murray, Town Foreman Ger Lupton, Mayor Eoin Coyne (FF) and Cllrs Barbara Murray (FG), Michael Beecher (FG), Michelle Hennessy (SF), Eoin Flanagan (SF), Liam Burke (Green Party) Tara O’Connell (Lab), Sammy Revins (FF) and Mary Linehan-Foley (FF).
The meeting was preceded by a power presentation from Youghal Socio-Economic Development Group manager Aileen Murray that reviewed plans towards renovating and re-opening the Clock Gate. She also delivered an overview of the Mall Arts Centre and St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, now collectively known as the ‘Yew Wood Venues’ project.
The meeting then dealt with regular issues thereafter as follows:
Votes of Congratulations:
Cllr Linehan-Foley congratulated McCarthy’s Pipe Ban for again organising a St. Patrick’s Day Parade that was “getting bigger and better every year.” She also congratulated the Youghal 4 All group on the inaugural Moby Dick festival. Cllr O’Connell paid tribute to the Pipe band before congratulating Youghal racquetball players Ian Cronin, Barry Goggin, Dwaine O’ Shea & Ian Ryan) on their recent success in claiming the Men’’ Novice All Ireland Championship in Fermoy. Their achievement, she suggested, merited inclusion in the upcoming Mayor’s Awards ceremony. She further acknowledged the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and all involved in the recent Youghal Family Fun day. Cllr Beecher thanked the Youghal Coastguard for acquiring the forthcoming 7th annual Joint Search and Rescue (JSAR) games for the town. Cllr Flanagan congratulated the Moby Dick festival organisers, along with the council workers who laid the new paving outside the C.Y.M.S.
Town Foreman’s Report:
The town clerk gave an update on items raised at the previous meeting: Moving sands at Green Hole was an evolving issue and had reached abnormal levels in recent times. Funding for 2012 had prioritised the diving rocks renovation and he asked that Green Hole be considered for 2013’s budget. Meanwhile a new lifebuoy had been installed there, a new red flagged erected and traffic bollards would soon be installed to prevent driving on the promenade there.
A new traffic sign had been ordered for Windmill Hill. A property owner at the Jail Steps had been approached in writing with regard to having the area cleared of illegal waste. The town engineer was to investigate the state of the footpath outside four council houses at Ashe Street and work undertaken depending on funding. The engineer was also attending to a fallen wall at the tennis courts and potholes at St. Raphael’s had been filled.
Rates arrears of €20,300 (8%) were paid in January from the total of €239,149 outstanding from 2011. Demands for 2012 issued in February had yielded €90,362 out of a total warrant of €1,642,036 (5.5%). Casual Trading spaces at the Boardwalk require changes to bye-laws and can only cover Youghal Town Council’s jurisdiction. The Magners Hill/Holy Family Church area is already covered by speed limits and enforcement is a Garda matter. However the council would look at how the signage can be intensified. Six 8’ by 8’ boards (by Youthreach) displaying the town’s heritage will be erected when all the walls are repainted at Catherine Street car park. The footpath at the bottom of Cork Hill had been referred to the town engineer. A Túas worker was dealing with litter picking at the boardwalk and Claycastle car park area since April 2nd across five mornings per week. Six extra dog bins would be erected in the coming weeks across main walking areas.
Cllr Burke returned to the issue of a installing a pedestrian crossing near the Holy Family Church and said parishioners were very concerned. He was supported by Cllr Linehan-Foley who added that a blind spot in the vicinity increased the danger. Mr Ryan agreed to order a traffic count at the location.
Civic reception and coffee
Cllr Burke also asked that repairs to a section of road between 41 and 48 Raheen Park, be at least be considered in next year’s budget. He also wanted disabled bays better marked on the main street. Mayor Coyne congratulated Youghal jump jockey Davy Russell on reaching his 100th winner of the season. “And for bring us the donkey derby,” interjected Cllr Linehan-Foley. The mayor observed that the “national and international sports star” had not forgotten his roots. Cllr Linehan Foley suggested Mr. Russell might attend the mayor’s awards night. The mayor went a step further and proposed the jockey be afforded a full civic reception. This was agreed, date to be arranged.
Cllr Murray asked whether it was possible to initiate the process –and quickly- of establishing a coffee dock at the boardwalk, preferably near the front strand exercise machines. The town clerk, supportive, asked that a resolution be passed immediately to prepare a draft change to the Casual Trading bye-laws with consideration to them holding a special meeting to advance the process. However, public consultation would take a further six weeks. Not just that but it would have to be advertised also in the specialist Irish State gazette Iris Oifigiuil, which is not published regularly. Town manager Patricia Power wondered if the two casual trading outlets already licenced (to sell chips, cold drinks, ice cream etc.) could be permitted to sell hot beverages. Unfortunately, she learned, Ireland’s bye law legislation demanded that months of procedure and due process would have to be followed before they could start boiling that kettle.
The town clerk explained that a planning application would be lodged with Cork County Council for Phase II of the eco-boardwalk, extending 1.1 km to Redbarn, with additional facilities like seating areas etc., being incorporated. He said a public consultation process would run until June 8th next. Mr. Ryan said the council was seeking “positive suggestions” in relation to the application. Considering the overwhelmingly positive public reaction to the first phase of the boardwalk, he urged councillors to compile petition from constituents in support of the application. He observed that usually only those with concerns or negative observations usually made submissions but in this instance a high volume of positivity could be very persuasive and influential. Amidst 100% support for his request, Cllr Linehan-Foley also suggested launching an online petition. Meanwhile Phase I is to be officially opened as soon as a date suitable for a government minister to attend was agreed. Of course nobody was thinking that this invite might help to impress upon the said minister the need to secure funding to complete the project!
There followed a minute’s silence, proposed by Cllr Linehan-Foley in memory of Michael Murray, father of town engineer Paul. The engineer recalled that his father had been involved in fitting out the Clock Gate when it was opened for the public back in the 1960’s.
Graveyard tap and Green Park fountains
Business recommenced with Cllr Linehan-Foley asking that moss on pathways at the newer part of the cemetery be removed. She too paid tribute for the new paving at the CYMS and wished the court house could be similarly treated The town clerk said the council was fortunate to have skilled on-house workers such as Ger Lupton and Tom Delaney to undertake such tasks and revealed that similar work would commence around the court house shortly. Cllr O’Connell asked when debris from works at the top of the graveyard would be cleared and was told it would be done shortly. The councillor then asked if a water tap could be installed in that area. Mr Ryan said it would be considered. Everyone resisted cracking any bad jokes about the council never doing a tap!
Cllr Burke asked that the Mall House gates be kept open during the summer/tourist season, in lieu with the town’s heritage status, with which the mayor heartily concurred. Cllr Flanagan wanted two big potholes repaired conducted in the Dermot Hurley/GAA club area. Also the road surface was dangerously uneven at Cork Hill from the hospital upwards, he reported. The mayor asked if the fountains at Green Park could be brightened up. The town clerk said the Tidy Town were attending to it and it may be repainted.
County Council Items:
Cllr Linehan Foley drew attention to water descending Chapel Lane. It seemed to her like something other than tap water! The town clerk said it was particularly urgent that it be rectified given that a contractor was poised to commence heritage work on the lane. The engineer said he’d investigate.
Cllr O’Connell said she’d like new, clear signage denoting the river bye laws erected at Nealon’s Quay. Mr Ryan replied that it will take time as the signs details are specific to Youghal. Cllr Flanagan was concerned about the footpath from the bottom of Windmill Hill to Taylor’s Lane.
Diving rocks, pavement parking
Mayor Coyne asked what for a time scale for re-opening the diving rocks. The engineer said he hoped the work would be done by the June bank holiday. The mayor also asked for an update with regard to re-erecting a bollard at the bottom of Cork Hill, where the footpath is flush with the roadway and broken from cars mounting it to turn left. The town clerk said an alternative solution to bollards may be needed because vehicles had destroyed previous ones and erecting deeper bollards was difficult due to p & t cables underneath. Cllr Beecher condemned car parking on the footpath at Tallow Street, sparking a flurry of debate in which he received scant support. The mayor said such parking served to calm traffic, while Cllr Linehan-Foley asked where the drivers, who were predominantly residents, were supposed to park. She also reminded Cllr Beecher that he had parked his lorry on many a Youghal footpath during his coal delivering days. “This is present,” side stepped Cllr Beecher, adding “It’s against the law; footpaths are for pedestrians!” Cllr O’Connell described the area as “dangerous” and in need of review as regards traffic management. The issue faded to gridlock and the discussion grounded to a halt.
The mayor congratulated Teen Yates on her recent book launch and wished her and its benefactors, the COPE Foundation all the best. He also asked that councillors supply any list of award candidates for the upcoming Mayor’s Award night in June. Cllr Linehan-Foley said she had been asked to present a 500-name petition to the mayor supporting kerbs in a newer section of the graveyard. She also asked when a health and safety report on the issue would be forthcoming from Cork County Council and also when a Burial Board meeting would occur. The town clerk said the report was “imminent” and the meeting would take place straight afterwards.
Communication with the National Asset Management Agency:
The town clerk read a brief correspondence from NAMA asking that it be forwarded with all future correspondence relating to Planning Acts and associated matters and derelict sites, etc.
The Gathering 2013:
Mr Ryan quoted from further correspondence, from Heritage Ireland, reminding that Youghal, as a member of that organisation, would participate in ‘the Gathering.’ The year-ling concept hopes to attract 325,000 additional visitors across the 32 counties through 2013 and earn €168m. The mayor recalled that a public meeting had been convened last October at which many local businesses and societies had attended. Little had evolved since, largely due to the absence of a definite structure with which to proceed. He would now consider forming a committee to that end.
Applications for Funding to the Heritage Council;
1) Phase IV of Works to Secure the Structural Integrity of Youghal Town Walls.
2) Youghal Medieval Festival 2012.
The town clerk explained that the first application focused on the area around the old shop at the town walls (near Raheen Park). He said the work would cost €81,577, with the Heritage Council being asked for €70,060 and the shortfall of €11,517 would be me by the town council as provided in the 2012 budget. The second application is in respect of the 2012 Medieval Festival and was for €19,139, of which €13,319 was being sought from the Heritage Council and €5,820 to be provided by Youghal Town Council. Of the council’s contribution, he added, €3,320 would comprise voluntary labour, leaving total cost of €2, 500. He said the festival was of major economic benefit to the town.
St. Patricks Day Parade 2012:
Correspondence from Micheal McCarthy of the Youghal Pipe Band who now effectively organise the annual showcase, had raised several points and issues in regarding to future parades. Given that provision may need to be made in the 2013 budget in addressing these, it was agreed to nominate a council member to work alongside the band and report back to the council. The mayor was to initiate contact and hopefully a representative nominated at May’s council meeting.
Any Other Business:
South Doc Problem:
Cllr Linehan-Foley said there was now a problem in Youghal with SouthDoc. Meantime Cllr O’Connell, said that her group would raise the issue if a meeting they were seeking with HIQUA was forthcoming. She explained that, contrary to rumour, Youghal ambulance remains in situ, though the situation remains fluid with “proposed working hours and rotas being drafted.” The councillor added, “It’s not gone but it’s not saved.” An unusual turn of protocol saw radio presenter Pat O’Reilly briefly enter the discussion to inform that “the union has agreed” that the ambulance be taken. Mr O’Reilly says he won’t be seeking re-election in 2014!
YOUGHAL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING MARCH 2012 – By Christy Parker
In attendance were Town Manager Patricia Power, Town Clerk Liam Ryan, Deputy Town Clerk Helen Mulcahy, Town Engineer Paul Murray, Town Foreman Ger Lupton, Mayor Eoin Coyne (FF) and Cllrs Barbara Murray (FG), Michael Beecher (FG), Michelle Hennessy (SF), Eoin Flanagan (SF), Liam Burke (Green Party) Tara O’Connell (Lab), Sammy Revins (FF) and Mary Linehan-Foley (FF).
The meeting was preceded by a discussion on the loss of two blue flags, at the Front Strand and Claycastle this year and the impending loss of the flag at Redbarn from next year. See elsewhere in this issue for report.
Cllr Murray expressed dissatisfaction with Airtircity’s performance in regard to complaints and repairs. She likened the company to the National Roads Authority in “seemingly not answerable to anyone but themselves.” She added that they were prone to taking longer than the specified 10 days to implement repair work. She said their “brutal way of doing business,” in situation where local authorities were not in a position to take charge of an estate, could mean “lights out.” On the issue of taking charge of estates, she advised that bonds be drawn down where possible and that lighting be given priority. She also recommended that Airtricity’s record be considered when its contract with Cork County Council –into which Youghal Town Council is tied- is reviewed and, if deemed to be wanting, they be told to “get off the pot.”
Cllr Murray congratulated outgoing GAA President Christy Cooney on his tenure of office. Cllr Michael Beecher likewise commended Youghal GAA on its recent celebratory night at Club Áras in honour of the man. “I know it was drawn out but it was lovely to see and we may never see it again in our lifetime,” he noted. Cllr Hennessy paid tribute to Jimmy Healey in his gallant effort to set a new world push-ups record. “Nobody in this town has ever done 2, 2791 press-ups in an hour,” she said without any danger of contradiction. Cllr Hennessy also congratulated the Keniry School of Dancing, primarily on winning the Over-16 Eight-hand Reel sector in the recent Munster Championships but also for other notable achievements at the event. Cllr Flanagan paid tribute to Youghal CYMS on having two teams in the final of the Cork Under-17 Snooker Championships recently. Cllr Linehan-Foley commended Adam Curley on recently winning the Boys 54 kg title in the Munster Boxing Championships on February 11th. Cllr Linehan-Foley asked when the next local achievement awards would be held and was told it would be in June.
Tenders for refurbishment on the exterior of the Clock Gate: There were nine tenders submitted and the work is expected to start in the coming weeks.
Motion in the name of Mayor Coyne, seconded by Cllr Revins calling on Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for Environment, to withdraw any plans to abolish town councils:
The mayor said there was speculation that town councils may be abolished at the minister’s behest. In his own opinion, town councils represented the fundamentals of democracy and their removal would be a gross disservice to the country. He argued that councillors perform selfless, dedicated work on behalf of their locality, for a very small financial reward, while serving an integral part of Irish democracy.
Cllr Revins strongly concurred, citing local democracy as “the strongest cog” in democracy. Economically, he said the weekly €60 allocated to town councillors amounted to little and he called on TDs to reduce their own salaries if they wished to make savings. “They’d want to take from the top and not from the bottom,” he elaborated. “Fianna Fáil are where they are today because they didn’t listen to the ordinary people.”
Cllr Linehan-Foley agreed, saying there was often a misconception that town councillors received a large wage. She also recalled Minister Hogan publicly supporting town councils a few years ago when he was in opposition. “Now we have a flip of the coin,” she noted, before warning that, “If Youghal Town Council goes, the town becomes just a number in County Hall.”
In support, Cllr Murray described the level of work undertaken by town councillors as “absolutely phenomenal,” and “100% accountable” adding that local democracy was at its very strongest at town council level. She retained hope that the minister would stop short of abolishing the local bodies at least where populations exceeded 6,000 and she argued that were cost-effective valuations conducted, Youghal would certainly retain its council.
Cllr O’Connell said she had been amongst a Labour delegation that had met party Leader Eamon Gilmore a week pervious. He had purported personally to be in support of town councils. “He also felt it could swing the other way and town councils might get more power,” she informed optimistically concluding that, “People need to be able to have personal contact with those representing them in their own town.” Following further support the motion was carried.
Motion in the name of Mayor Coyne seconded by Cllr Revins, that the council formally establish a twinning arrangement between the citizens of New Bedford, Massachusetts and their counterparts in Youghal by way of strengthening the ties of both towns that enjoy an association with Moby Dick:
The mayor said the groundwork and inspiration for this initiative had been laid by former councillor Olly Casey’s visit to New Bedford in 2011. He added that Youghal needed to make every effort it could to attract tourism and the American town’s 90,000-strong population could only assist in that. The motion was carried.
Town Foreman’s Report:
Cllr Hennessy warned that “a mighty drop” of up to 10 feet had developed at the steps accessing Green Hole due to sand erosion and felt it presented a danger to small children particularly. Also, the lifebuoy in the same area had vanished as had the red flag. If all those impediments weren’t sufficient, anglers were driving down the promenade and then later having to drive onto the Lighthouse Hill footpath to re-access the road as parked vehicles were blocking their exit. She recommended a large flowerpot as a deterrent to the drivers. The councillor also asked that a traffic sign missing from a previously damaged house on Windmill Hill be replaced, pleaded that something be done to halt the massive amount of illegal dumping over a wall at the Jail Steps, sought repairs to a manhole at Ashe Street and requested that attention be paid to a wall in danger of collapsing on the same street.
Cllr Burke asked if a dangerous wall at the tennis court had yet been addressed. Town engineer Paul Murray said he had contacted the landowners, i.e. the holy establishments of the Church and the town council and he was dealing with it. Cllr Burke also wanted a deep pothole by the telephone exchange near St Raphael’s repaired, inquired if there had been any improvement in rates arrears this year. The councillor concluded with a request for a casual trading space at the Claycastle car park end of the board walk. A coffee stop would be welcome he elaborated, particularly when the structure was extended to Redbarn, as Cllr Murray was to observe.
Traffic, Tuas, exercise and bins
Cllr Linehan-Foley said the road by the Holy Family Church, near Bay View, was very dangerous due to speeding. Elderly residents in particular were nervous and she asked that some “signage or something” be erected to facilitate them crossing the route safely. She asked if the Youthreach-made boards would soon be going up at the Catherine Street car park after two years waiting. The councillor also asked for a bollard to be restored at the end of Cork Hill, where a woman had suffered “a nasty fall” a week previous. She said cars were mounting the footpath en route to Tallow Street and wondered if a traffic management plan could be conducted with traffic perhaps directed one-way only, towards the Bretton Road. “It’s just a suggestion by way of initiating some action to make the area safer,” she proposed.
Cllr Murray asked who was responsible for removing bins at either end of the boardwalk as they were not being emptied. The town clerk revealed that two TUAS workers were soon to be employed with maintaining that entire area on a daily basis. He hoped in due course that further such workers would be recruited, to facilitate a constant presence on the boardwalk in helping to maintain the area in “pristine condition.” Cllr Murray congratulated him for the initiative, which she described as “fantastic news.”
Cllr O’Connell wondered if some of the fitness equipment could be placed near the boardwalk as people were feeling a bit self-conscious about using them where passing traffic was prevalent. The councillor also stated that people wanted more dog poop bins at Tallow Street and on Bretton Road, where the regular bins were “full of domestic rubbish.”
Cllr Flanagan wanted dog poop bins on the Lighthouse Hill and Strand area generally. He sought more yellow lines on the approach to Raheen Road to deter parking and asked if a hand rail could be installed on the steps descending the boardwalk on to the beach.
County Council Items:
Cllr Murray wanted two more dog poop bins on the lifebuoy side of Claycastle car park as people seemed reluctant –well “too lazy,” she said- to cross the car park to avail of the two available there. The town clerk interceded that under new practice, including the Tuas workers, the situation will be ratified. The councillor asked if bye-law signage could be better displayed at the beach. She wondered too if a portocabins with toilet facilities and exterior access could be deployed this year for lifeguards instead of just converted containers. She felt it might help resolve the persistent problem associated with toilet facilities at Youghal beach. Town manager Patricia Power said lifesaving was a priority for lifeguards and toilet maintenance might not be conducive and might even hamper, that purpose.
The town engineer said here were public toilets at Claycastle and Redbarn anyway, to which Cllr Murray replied –with unintentional double entendre no doubt- that one would be “taking one’s life in one’s hands” when using the Redbarn facility. “They are remote, a ridiculous design and not fit for purpose,” she stated. Cllr Linehan-Foey said toilets anywhere else in Ireland were of reasonable standard compared to Youghal’s with “the people using them” primarily responsible. The engineer said he would investigate the situation.
Disabled parking bays, water, right-of-way and signs
Cllr Beecher wondered if the new disabled parking bays were smaller than were previous ones, to which he engineer said he didn’t think so. The apparent dearth of dog poop bins was also on Cllr Beecher’s mind as he requested two such implements for the Summerfield Cross-Leisure Centre route.
Cllr Hennessy said water of some sort was running down Chapel Lane and the shrubs at Mill Road roundabout needed pruning as they were impeding motorists’ vision. She asked for an update on flood alleviation at Clonpriest/Ballymacoda and was told it was a matter for the Area Roads committee. The councillor drew attention to a right-of-way on the Quarry Road having apparently been blocked by a property owner. The engineer said he had contacted the woman in question and hoped to meet her very shortly. Cllr Hennessy replied that waiting was not necessary, insisting that it had been established six weeks ago that it was a public road and so access should be restored immediately.
Cllr O’Connell said signage on the quay regarding jet-ski and small craft bye-laws was “totally inadequate” ad she asked that proper notice, including speed limits and penalty consequences be erected.
Cllr Flanagan wanted disabled spaces properly lined and more visibly apparent. He also referred to a woman who urgently needed disabled space outside her house. The engineer asked that he relate her address to him later and he would address the issue.
Non-National Road Grant Fund Allocations 2012:
Details circulated were as follows: Government Grant for 2012: €195,000
Projects already approved: Mall Lane (completed January): €13,000; Chapel Lane (Tenders received): €22,814. Net Available Funds: €159,184.
Proposed Projects with costings: Knockaverry Estate: Area B: €27,316; Area C: €54,230; Area D: €62,933; Nealon’s Quay Car Park: €117,188; Fairfield Car Park (extending as far as car park at rear of Broderick’s): €50,507 (Prioritised for 2013).
Total Project Costs: €312,175; Available Funds: €159,184.
Given the gap in available funding, the town engineer commented that the proposed works would go to tender in bulk, helping to bridge the gap a little. The town clerk pointed out that further remedial work other than resurfacing was needed at Nealon’s Quay car park, such as lighting, enhancing footpaths, replacing the crash barrier, etc. Consequently he suggested deferring the resurfacing work to 2013 until such works were completed, which was agreed. It was stressed that the Nealon’s Quay project, in return, was most certainly prioritised for next year. It was also agreed to defer work at Knockaverry car park Area C (top road and middle road.)
Cllr Linehan-Foley welcomed the plans for the Fairfield area which she noted involved ornate lighting and advanced landscaping, etc. Cllr O’Connell, on whose impetus the work was considered and deemed a priority, concurred. The deferments left a shortfall of about €8,000 but there were hopes that this deficiency could be overcome in practice.
Unresolved Motion Report:
Cllr Burke asked whither the 2009 Retail Strategy for Youghal for which funding was provided in the 2010 budget? The town clerk explained that there were several variations required to the overall Town Development Plan, such as incorporating the national flooding guidelines, housing strategy, retail strategy, etc. Following a recent meeting with county council planners it was agreed to commence preparatory work for a review of the overall 2013 development plan, next June.
Regarding the Retail Strategy Plan contained within the Development Plan, a new such strategy was being planned for the county and city, starting in 2013. Thankfully, he proceeded, towns outside the Cork city area will now be allowed to form their own, separate Retail Strategy, relevant to individual, local infrastructures and not bound by wider criteria. The new Retail Strategy Plan for Youghal would thus be adopted before the Town Development Plan was approved next year. “That’s good news,” commented Cllr Burke.
Cllr Murray asked whether car park spaces would also be considered with due recourse to local requirements and conditions under the local Retail Strategy guidelines. She was told that would be the case.