Tuesday 23 December 2008

Council set to review community role in PPP schemes

DUBLIN CITY Council says it is reviewing the manner in which it works with three communities where public private partnership (PPP) schemes with developer Bernard McNamara collapsed earlier this year.

The Irish Times understands the review will look at whether the regeneration boards for the three areas - St Michael's Estate in Inchicore, Dominick Street and O'Devaney Gardens - should remain in existence now that the PPP projects are not proceeding.

Community groups in St Michael's have reacted angrily to the news, interpreting it as a move to remove local participation from any future decision-making process. However, the council said in a statement it remained committed to working closely with the communities on an ongoing basis.

The chairman of St Michael's Estate Regeneration Board, former Labour Court chairman Finbarr Flood, said the council's move came as a complete shock when it was announced at a board meeting this week. "People are quite upset about it . . . This project is going to go ahead in one form or another and there is no benefit in not having the relevant people in the community involved."

Earlier this month, after deliberating on what to do after the failure of the PPP projects, the council unveiled plans to build social housing in St Michael's and O'Devaney Gardens. However, the number of units is much lower than originally envisaged under the PPP plans and the timescale is longer - up to 2017. The council says it will seek private sector partners for the sites, but it is unclear whether there is any commercial interest in the current climate.

Rita Fagan of the Family Resource Centre in St Michael's said the council's move to review the board was an attack on local democracy. "Local residents and community groups are shocked at the idea that the board could be dismantled when there is so much work to be done.

"The whole idea behind setting up the board was to ensure strong local democratic participation in whatever project took place. Given that we are now in a new phase of regeneration, it would seem to us that . . . strong, participative local structures are an absolute necessity . . .Ten years on, and not a sod turned - shame on them."

A spokesman for O'Devaney Gardens Regeneration Board said it had not been told of the review. Last week, the council unveiled proposals for a replacement scheme involving a reduced number of social housing units, which were considered by a well-attended meeting of residents.

Irish Times


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