Monday, 29 October 2007

'Ignored' residents reject estates plan

RESIDENTS living in a troubled estate earmarked for a major facelift say they do not want to be included in the redevelopment plans because they weren't consulted.

Residents from Weston Gardens on Limerick's southside took out a full-page advertisement in their local paper to object to the work being carried out by the Limerick Regeneration Agencies.

The State agencies were set up following publication of the John Fitzgerald report and estates in Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra-Weston are set to be radically transformed over coming years arising from their recommendations.

The man charged with overseeing the regeneration welcomed the open letter in the 'Limerick Leader' criticising the agency overseeing the redevelopment in their neighbourhood.

Chief executive officer of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies, Brendan Kenny, said he welcomed all input into the redevelopment of estates from local people as it showed a willingness by people to become involved.

Last week, the first meeting of the Southside Regeneration Committee was held to begin work on city's southside.

However, residents from Weston Gardens say they have "no trust, faith or confidence in the Southside Agency and do not wish to be included in its remit".

The committee of the Weston Gardens Association says it is disappointed to have been excluded from membership of the regeneration committee after it was invited to join it.

In response, Mr Kenny said: "It's a healthy situation if there are people who feel aggrieved at not being on a regeneration committee. That's a good sign because it shows a willingness to get involved."

Barry Duggan
Irish Independent

1 comment:

Cathal McCarthy said...

“Everything was one on one, Paulie hated conferences; he didn’t want anybody hearing what he said and he didn’t want anybody listening to what he was being told.” (Martin Scorsose’s Goodfellas)

We can expect a fictional mafia boss to be less than democratic in his dealings, but we should expect more from Brendan Kenny and the Southside Regeneration Agency in its dealings with the beleaguered residents of our troubled estates.

Contrary to what was reported by some media outlets, the residents of Weston Gardens Rosbrien are in favour of a "facelift". We are, however, opposed to the demolition of our historic homes. I do not “believe” that the residents of Weston Gardens Rosbrien are being excluded from a residents committee that will discuss and make plans concerning our homes, I know it.

I know because that’s what Mr. Kenny told me at one of our one on one meetings.

Nor do I believe his reason for our exclusion; that residents from Ballinacurra Weston would object to us because we are a private estate and now apparently, neither does Mr. Kenny.

Indeed, a question I would like to ask one to one is: how can a residents’ committee for Ballinacurra Weston be reasonably established without informing the residents beforehand or without holding a public meeting, as was done in Keyes Park and O’Malley Park?

At an earlier one to one in July, Mr. Kenny assured me that people who had sold their homes back to the council would be contacted and offered “secure, good quality, housing within the regenerated areas”. He agreed that the council had failed to make this guarantee and that this was counter-productive to the regeneration process and would be stopped.

The daily reality of living with criminal and anti-social behaviour makes law-abiding people desperate to get away from it and live normal lives. Limerick City Council continues to ‘buy’ their homes back for as little as €20,000 and board them up. Such degeneration does little to restore confidence and stability. In the context of the Fitzgerald Report it makes no sense at all, as the very people that are supposed to benefit from regeneration are being scattered to the four corners of the city and housed in communities that are suspicious of them. Without those promised “intensive policing arrangements” this displacement will continue.

Mr. Kenny also assured me, one to one, that I would see a “highly visible Garda presence” based in our troubled estates by Christmas. I was then asked to join a residents committee and furnish Mr. Kenny with a list of like-minded people in the area.

By September Mr. Kenny had obviously changed his mind and I was glad that I hadn’t given him that list. When I returned with news of our exclusion the Weston Gardens Residents’ Association sent another representative to meet with him. When that proved fruitless we sent him a letter by registered post on 1st October. We had agreed to wait 3 weeks for a response and if we received none we would publish a shortened version of our letter.

I didn’t write that letter; it was a collective effort. Mr. Kenny’s public response is understandable, it is often the case that reasoned debate is replaced by personalised attacks when a credible answer is lacking. We had little recourse left but to go public.

Our open letter to Mr. Kenny may well have "horrified" and "peeved" some, but oh what a tangled web they weave.

Visit www.cathalmccarthy.ie to read the open letter.

Cathal McCarthy,
Cathaoirleach,
Weston Gardens Residents Association,
Rosbrien,
Limerick.