ENNIS may miss out on essential infrastructural improvements because the town is to be stripped of its hub town status.
The warning was sounded by Councillor Brian Meaney who said Ennis is to lose its special hub town status arising from the abolition of the National Spatial Plan.
“There is a policy vacuum because a revised plan has not been put in place,” stated Councillor Meaney.
“In the last few months it has been announced that Ennis is losing its town council and now it is losing its hub town status. I am not saying that the National Spatial Strategy was perfect. The strategy was a kind of a one-toothed wonder in that it gave designation to urban centres around the country but very little resources were put in place to back up those designations.
“All hub towns were to have an improved sewerage treatment plants. This never happened in most towns but, at least, while a town was designated a hub town, it was in line for upgrade. In the absence of designations it may be an excuse for the department to halt any progress on badly needed infrastructure, such as the urgently needed increase in capacity at the sewerage plant in Ennis,” he cautioned.
Councillor Meaney suggested that other infrastructural improvements which were developed because of a town’s status in the National Spatial Plan, such as the rail line north of Ennis, could become less viable because of a change in a town status.
“Another consideration is that a lot of decisions for private investment in towns around the country was based on the status the town was given in the spatial plan. Any significant changes to that plan could leave the State liable for considerable compensation payments.
“It is easy to go down the route of predicting that new designations will be decided based on political patronage but I hope that this will not happen again and I use the word ‘again’ because political pressure was applied in the designation of a town’s status in the last National Spatial Plan,” he added.