ALTHOUGH Killarney Municipal District Council officials confirmed that a total of 89 submissions were received during the first phase of a public consultation process on the pedestrianisation of Plunkett Street, councillors were shown just five one-line bullet points to sum up what the public had to say.
An official report, provided to elected members at a meeting on Wednesday, contained a very brief summary of concerns and observations raised by business interests and others.
They only observations released to councillors were the following five bullet points:
- Impact on traffic flow in the town centre and lack of parking to support the scheme
- Confusion regarding the operation of the scheme
- Impact on retail and business outside of the pedestrianised zone
- Difficulties regarding deliveries
- Aesthetics of the area
But the lack of a more detailed summary infuriated some councillors with Cllr Maura Healy-Rae branding the official report “a complete joke”.
”For us to get five bullet points from 89 submissions is not good enough,” she said, asking council officials who had given them the authority to decide which submissions were important and which were not.
“Management gave a commitment to show all the submissions and you have reneged on that promise. We need to read the full submissions and consider them before we make any decisions. We cannot accept the report in this form,” Cllr Healy-Rae fumed.
“What is the cloaks and daggers about? What are ye hiding” What are ye afraid of?” she asked top table officials.
Cllr Healy-Rae said the vast majority of people who made submissions signed their names to them and they want their views known.
But Town Manager, Angela McAllen, said the full submissions or the identity of those that forwarded them cannot be provided because of GDPR considerations and she said the council does not have the protection required to release them.
“I’m advised by the law agent that we are not in a position to do so,” she said.
Cllr Healy-Rae argued, however, that the names of those that made submissions could be blocked out and she said it was impossible for councillors to vote on the matter if they are not being provided with the full facts.
Cllr Donal Grady said because the full submissions were not made available to councillors, the report from management was incomplete while Cllr Marie Moloney also asked for the complete submissions to be provided to enable councillors to make an informed decision.
Cllr Brendan Cronin, a strong supporter of pedestrianisation, said if it is to work properly, virtual message signs advising motorists approaching the town how many spaces are available in each car park are an essential requirement.
There is also an entry-only slip-road required from Mission Road to the lower end of the Beech Road car park to ease congestion and utilise car parking spaces that are currently not being accessed, he said.
Cllr Niall Kelleher said the reason pedestrianisation did not work in the daytime was because the right circumstances were not provided.
“It was doomed for failure from the very start,” he added, stressing that he was always in favour of night time pedestrianisation on Plunkett Street but against the daytime trials. He also criticised the number of bollards that line the street as they detract from the pedestrianisation experience.
Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson, said pedestrianisation would be a huge advantage to Killarney but if it is not introduced in a proper manner, the council is failing the town and its people.
Cllr Niall O’Callaghan said the time it took management to read the report to the meeting was “the biggest waste of 45 minutes” in his life.
“I won’t change my stance on pedestrianisation. There has to be a plan but there is no plan,” he said.
Manager McAllen insisted, however, that there is a plan and that it has been established that the majority of people consulted are in favour of night time pedestrianisation while proposals to introduce it by day would have to be linked to a public realm plan with proposals for the car parks, laneways and other considerations.
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