Saturday 14 June 2008

Councillors angry over impact of transport authority

NEW Dublin Transportation Authority (DTA), due to start work next January, will have the power to veto planning applications, direct local authority spending and instruct authorities to compulsorily purchase land, Dublin City councillors have been told.

Councillors reacted angrily yesterday to a report from the city's director of traffic, Michael Phillips, about the impact of the DTA on the council's powers, and said the DTA was seeking to interfere unduly in council business without giving councillors adequate representation.

Councillors will not be represented on the board of the DTA. Two councillors from the Dublin Regional Authority will be represented on an advisory council to the DTA. However, councillors from the four Dublin local authorities will be vying for these positions.

Mr Phillips told councillors the DTA would be able to stop the council from granting planning permission if it felt the objectives of the DTA would be compromised.

The DTA would also be able to make amendments to the city development plan.

Currently, only councillors can amend the development plan.

The DTA could tell the council where to site bus stops, cycling facilities or parking within the city.

It could also direct the council to compulsorily purchase lands and carry out works, and will be able to step in and carry out work if the council fails to do so.

This could mean that if the DTA decided a quality bus corridor was to be created, the council could be ordered to acquire people's front gardens, Tim O'Sullivan, executive manager in the council's traffic department, said.

The DTA will also have an input into the council's finances, and will be able to direct the council as to how it must spend revenue collected from such sources as parking meters.

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said the DTA was being established as a HSE model and would be a "disaster" for the city.

"All parties were united in calling for a DTA but this is the worst of all worlds. There is absolutely no democratic accountability.

"It's the HSE for transport, and the worst con job perpetrated on the people of this city since the affordable housing debacle."

Sinn Féin councillor Larry O'Toole said he was concerned by the lack of input from councillors.

The DTA had become a "top down" organisation, and there was a danger that public transport in the city would be privatised.

Irish Times

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