rying to understand certain decisions made by the Wicklow County Council can often feel like trying to figure out what a bull ate for breakfast.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter what the bull ate. What matters is dealing with what came out the other end.
And so it was at the emergency meeting called by the Delgany Community Council tonight, pulled together in the hope of understanding the WCC’s recent surprise attack on Blackberry Lane. And then, dealing with it.
Without so much as a warning shot, these cowboys moved in and flattened a stretch of unspoilt riverside land at the Delgany end of Blackberry Lane. Not even the local councillors had heard of the WCC’s cunning plan.
A plan which, after much emailing, phoning and gnashing of teeth, was revealed to be a temporary emergency housing unit for a homeless family. A fine project for any council to be involved in, and no mistake, but not quite the get-out-of-jail-free card the Wicklow County Council seem to think it is.
Attempts to find out from the WCC any real details on the matter are met with either arrogance or ignorance. Or a subtle combination of both.
Doing a good deed in the wrong place isn’t really all that good a deed at all. Just as setting up your new Ikea flatpack bed in the bathroom doesn’t quite make sense (no matter how much you really, really need to sleep), plonking a stack of social housing units – possibly as many as 22, if the 2007 plan is revived – in a floodplain at the bottom of a steep hill in the middle of what looked like a Constable painting up until two weeks ago isn’t exactly a genius move either.
Was it any wonder emotions occasionally ran high tonight? Some of it unwittingly directed at the councillors present, but Grainne McLoughlin, Derek Mitchell and Gerry Walsh would have had little to do with this development going ahead. Other than, like the rest of us, not noticing until it was too late that the land had been rezoned by the council in 2007 from one house per acre to staggering 22.
Tonight, people wanted answers. And the three councillors were the closest things to representatives of WCC in the room, so, that’s where the anger turned. This may have looked like a wrap party for Last Of The Summer Wine, but the frustration – and confusion – in the room was palpable. It’s very difficult to know who to blame, or how to fight back, though, when your enemy will neither reveal themselves, nor their plans.
Wicklow County Council is the fat kid with the ball. We all have to play by their rules.
Which is why, in the end, it was decided that, with a little fundraising, and a small group of organisers, all possible legal challenges should be explored. In truth, common sense is all that’s needed here. The council have done some wonderful social housing in Greystones and a section of Delgany’s Convent Court already – so, clearly, they’re not oblivious to smart decisions. Everything in its right place, and all that.
As one concerned resident stated tonight, a simple fly-over of Delgany and the surrounding areas would reveal many far more suitable plots of lands that wouldn’t need an Everest climbing crew to bring you your groceries in the snow, and whose construction wouldn’t make The Gruffalo extinct overnight.
The morning after the meeting, with work on the site having been halted by Wicklow County Council – stating that they were reviewing the location, after freshly-buried sewage tanks had to be removed – diggers were back on Blackberry Lane just after 7am.
And as the comment below from Basil Miller – leader of The People’s Front Of Greystones (or is it The Greystonian’s People Front? Always get them mixed up) – this prime example of poor planning and media mishandling on Wicklow County Council’s part will be dismissed by some as merely another rich-vs-poor battle.
Still, enough of our yakking. As the meeting wound up – and we’ll have the details of the decisions made by the law-packing posse formed soon – we spoke with local troublemaker Aileen Lennon about the long and winding road ahead…
You can find out more details about the Blackberry Lane battle here.