A proposed upgrade of facilities at Ballyalla Lake has been put on hold as a result of the freezing of LEADER funding. However, one local councillor has called on Clare County Council to go ahead and plan for the upgrading “and be ready to go” for the next LEADER programme.
At a recent meeting of Ennis West electoral area councillors, Councillor Tom McNamara asked in relation to the development of amenities at Ballyalla what progress has been made with submitting a plan to Clare Local Development Company for LEADER funding as a joint initiative between Clare County Council, Clare Local Development Company and the local development group.
Leonard Cleary, Ennis town clerk responded, “Ballyalla Lake is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) under the current Ennis and Environs Development Plan. It is a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), wild bird sanctuary with nationally important numbers of wintering fowl.
“Clare County Council along with a Ballyalla Residents Association submitted a proposal to Clare Local Development Company in December of last year, to upgrade the public amenity area at Ballyalla Lake. The proposal was to be considered for LEADER funding. However, a letter was received from Clare Local Development Company at the end of February stating that the programme had been frozen until further notice, to facilitate a national review of remaining funding.
A further update has now been received that a limited LEADER budget has become available.
“However, it has been decided that the remainder of the LEADER budget will be allocated to projects that have an economic activity focus, ie job creation or job sustainability. Unfortunately even though the proposed Ballyalla project is eligible for LEADER funding it does not meet this new criteria. However, the Council will continue to develop the project and be ready for the next LEADER programme.”
Councillor Tom McNamara acknowledged that a lot of work has been done at Ballyalla in recent times. He commented, “I know LEADER funding is in difficulty but I think we should be going ahead with the planning and be ready to go once LEADER is back. This is an amenity that is badly needed for the people of the town. We have the group out there working and we have the plan.”
Ennis town manager and director of services, Ger Dollard, commented, “We all recognise the importance of Ballyalla. There has been a significant improvement in the maintenance of Ballyalla in recent years.
“We have been working with a local group putting in place a plan for environmental and recreational improvements and the intention was to go to LEADER. But we will continue to progress this.”