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Council acted with ‘indecent haste’ over Cloughleigh youth centre plan

Mayor of Ennis, Frankie Neylon, addresses residents of Cloughleigh at the meeting to discuss the proposed development of a youth centre in the area. Photograph by Declan MonaghanCLOSE to 100 people were in Ennis Town Council Chambers on Tuesday night, making their feelings heard on plans to build a Youth and Community Resource building on the Cloughleigh Road. Last week, a proposal on the development was passed by Ennis Town Council, despite residents’ objections.

Geraldine Dinan attended the meeting on Tuesday night. She said that there had been no consultation and that a lot of older people would be affected.
“We were never asked about it in the first place. There were 90 people at the meeting on Tuesday night and a lot of them wouldn’t usually go to meetings. A lot of the people living close to it would be of pension age,” she said.
Ms Dinan claimed that the council had acted with “indecent haste” on the matter, trying to get the proposal passed, rather than properly engaging with interested parties.
According to planners, people who made submissions on the proposal claimed it would lead to “nuisance, disturbance, noise littering, loitering and vandalism” and Ms Dinan claimed this was accurate.
She said that people living in the local area would be getting independent legal advice on the situation.
Fred Dinan also attended Tuesday’s meeting and he said that there had been no proper assessment of the site or public consultation. He also said that the site notice hadn’t been displayed until the very last minute.
“I go up to the school every day and I didn’t see any notice. If I saw a notice anywhere I’d stop and read it and the day it was put up, I saw it straight away.”
Mayor of Ennis Frankie Neylon was one of two town councillors to vote against the development. He said that people believe the development could exacerbate the existing drug problem in the area.
Councillor Neylon also said that older people who live nearby would be adversely affected.
“Most people who are near it are elderly and they can’t just sell up and leave. It’s very unfair to visit this on them.”
He said that many people in the area were unhappy with the lack of consultation and that the town council’s approach had been disappointing.
“Over 90 people who live in the area didn’t see any site notice until October 9. I have huge concerns about it and I’m very disappointed with how the town council has handled it. People aren’t objecting to the facility, but they’re objecting to where it is being located.”
Councillor Neylon said that there had been four other possible sites, at Waterpark House, Waterpark, Drumbiggle Road and Hermitage.
Councillor Paul O’Shea had voted in favour of the development at the site in Cloughleigh and he attended Tuesday’s meeting.
He told The Clare Champion he hadn’t been aware that there were a number of other possible sites for the proposal. Councillor O’Shea also said that a major gripe of the residents had been a claim that there wasn’t a site notice displayed. He said he would be looking for clarification on the points raised by those attending.
Councillor O’Shea said that he understood that local people could have an input in the management of the centre, which would be covered by CCTV and manned by Clare Youth Service. He also said it would offer activities for elderly people and the unemployed, as well as the youth.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ennis Town Council defended its handling of the matter.
“The council is satisfied that all procedures and processes required for the planning process were fully complied with by the council.
“A wide range of submissions were received during the period of public consultation under Part VIII of the planning regulations. The consultation process on this application was more extensive than would normally be carried out on a Part VIII planning application.”
The planning report was fully considered by the elected members of Ennis Town Council and following a vote on the report at the October meeting was approved by seven votes to two.
“The building proposed is a youth cafe and community resource building. It will be managed by Clare Youth Service, who are widely accepted as having an excellent track record in managing similar facilities throughout the county,” the statement concluded.


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