Saving the Poolbeg Chimneys is only the first step –

Saving the Poolbeg Chimneys is only the first step

 

 

Green Party councillors in Dublin are calling for a wider focus in discussions around the Poolbeg Chimneys. Saving the iconic landmarks is only the first step in the regeneration of the whole area. An emergency motion is to be put to Dublin City Council by Cllr Patrick Costello and Cllr Claire Byrne tonight, calling for an urgent local area plan to be drafted that will both protect the towers and push the redevelopment of the surrounding area.

 

Speaking today, local councillor Patrick Costello stated: “The refurbished Poolbeg chimneys will be a centrepiece for the whole bay, and can be a centrepiece of a redeveloped Poolbeg. By saving the chimneys and protecting this piece of architectural heritage we can set the tone for the whole development of this fantastic asset for Dublin.”

 

Councillor Claire Byrne stated: “The Glass Bottle site still lies empty, despite the city’s desperate need for housing and modern office space. It is just one of the many prime development areas around the capital that is being overlooked, and we’re calling on the Council to act quickly in order to save the chimneys, as well as realising the potential of the whole Poolbeg peninsula.”

 

Dublin City Council have failed to deliver on the City Development Plan. The area surrounding the chimneys has been zoned as a strategic development and regeneration area, but little has be done to realise the possibilities for tourist, commercial and residential development. The City Development Plan sets an objective of including Industrial Heritage sites on the record of protected structures, but the Poolbeg Chimneys, a key part of Dublin’s industrial heritage, have not yet been listed.

 

Photo by Darren Sweeny – Used under Creative Commons Licence – https://www.flickr.com/photos/darrensweeney/

School Shortages and Other Planning Disasters

We need more school places in our area.

 

I have met numerous families who struggle to get a place for their child. The importance of education is clear to everyone but there is something of a crisis in our area: people cannot get their children into local schools such is the demand for places and a lack of supply. Funding for measures to increase school places must be put in place to immediately alleviate this situation. This is Minister for Education’s constituency, yet the problem is getting worse not better.

 

This is just one problem where we need to use creativity and long term thinking

 

Tight urban areas such as Dublin 6 need to consider new models for a truly sustainable solution. We should adopt creative planning and development solutions that construct multi-purpose buildings. Buildings that grow and adapt to the changing requirements the surrounding community. So that when the urgent need is there for primary school places, it can take the overflow. And when those children grow older it can cater to them as space for teenagers and perhaps share it with their grandparents as a community space. When the neighbouring demographics change so can the building.

 

We must ensure all planning and development is in line with the infractuctrue needs of the communities, so that as the city grows we always have enough schools, hospitlas, roads, parking, public transport sewerage, instead of allowing wild sprawl and ad hoc after thought solutions.

 

Our children’s education suffering due to lack of school places is just one effect of when we get planning and development wrong.

 

The Growing Monster of Homelessness.

With so much happening in the past few years with crisis after crisis it seemed convenient to ignore the quietly growing monster that is homelessness.

We are looking into a crisis in terms of homelessness – each day Dublin City Council is spending thousands to put families into hotels and B&B’s. Recent news stories of families living in their cars shows that even this isn’t enough anymore, more has to be done. Equally many people become trapped in a cycle of emergency accommodation, not able to move on and get a stable life back.

Behind this is a deeper crisis in terms of housing. We need more social and affordable housing in Dublin, this is good for those who cannot afford housing but also helps prevent runaway rent prices for everyone by releasing the pressure of demand. Due to this unreleased pressure that exists at the minute we face spiralling rents which alongside cuts to rent supplement have made it almost impossible for many families to get anywhere to rent, and has increased the financial burden on those who are currently renting.

The spiralling prices in south Dublin look like another bubble, we need to learn the lessons of the Celtic tiger years and we need a comprehensive national housing policy for the first time. Housing is a basic necessity and should be treated as that, not as a commodity to be exploited.

I have worked on the ground with homeless services for adult and children, I have worked in vulnerable communities. I want to do more for these people and believe we need to address both our crisis of homelessness and our deeper housing problems.
The latest policy framework adopts a “Housing First” approach, where regardless of circumstances a house is provided and supports to keep you in the house and address any personal difficulties are put in place. While this system has been shown to work well in other countries it relies on having a supply of houses and homes to put people in. In my dealings for work with officials I have been told that the waiting time in Dublin City Council is 10 years, while Dun Laoghire Rathdown has a waiting time of 14 years. This is simply not good enough. A “Housing First” approach will fail without houses.

Dooder Action Day – Enjoy A Cleaner River

 

I have been writing to constituents to spread the word about the Dodder Action Day, organised by Dodder Action Group, a worth event that needs the communities support to work.

Dodder Action is an umbrella group of hardworking volunteers who want to maximise the potential of the River Dodder as an amenity for the local communities. The group includes residents associations, Tidy Town’s committee’s, the Dodder Anglers, and a host of other local volunteers.

As part of this work, the annual Dodder Action day sees volunteers come together to clean up the length of the river. Last year I took part with my scout group (Leeson Park), alongside other scout groups, local groups and volunteers in what was a hugely successful day.

I will be out again this year and it would be great if you could come and join us. Come along at a time and place that suits you

  • 10am Herbert Park Herbert Park Hotel Bridge Off Anglesea Road
  • 10am Templeogue / KnocklyonDodder Valley Park Carpark near Spawell Bridge on Spawell Link Road
  • 11am Donnybrook Footbridge Beaver Row / Brookvale Road
  • 11am FirhouseFirhouse Weir Dodder Riverbank ParkOff Firhouse Road by Mount Carmel Park
  • 11am Milltown / Clonskeagh Milltown Carpark (Opposite Wilde & Green) Off Milltown Road
  • 2pm Orwell / Dartry Footbridge at Orwell Park by Ely Arch Off Dodder Road Lower
  • 2pm Rathfarnham Footbridge to Bushy Park Off R112 near Fairways
  • 2pm Old Bawn Homelawn Road – Avonmore Road entrance to Homelawn

For more info check out www.dodderactiondublin.com

If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to call me on 0879431494, tweet at @costellop or email patrick@patrickcostello.ie

Hope to see you there!

Grants to make your home more energy efficient.

Through relatively straightforward measures you can improve the energy efficiency of your home making it warmer, cheaper to heat and better for the environment. Although these involve huge potential for long-term savings, energy efficiency measures do require an initial investment.  Luckily there are grants and incentive schemes to help you in upgrading your home.  I have gathered up all the information to help get you started.

SEAI (Sustainable Energy Ireland) runs a grant scheme to allow homeowners to upgrade their homes with energy efficiency measures called the Better Energy Home scheme.

Grants are available for:

  • Roof insulation
  • Wall insulation
  • Boiler and heating control upgrades
  • Solar panels

To qualify for a grant:

  1. Your home must have been built before 2006.
  2. You must apply for and be approved for a grant before works commence
  3. All works must be completed by a SEAI registered contractor and comply with SEAI standards
  4. All works, including a published BER, must be completed and paperwork submitted to SEAI within six months of the grant offer.

Seven easy steps to get grant payment

  1. Decide on work to be done and grant to be applied for
  2. Select an SEAI registered Contractor
  3. Apply for grant and get approval
  4. Get works done by registered SEAI contractor
  5. Get BER done and published by registered BER assessor
  6. Submit complete and correct forms to SEAI
  7. Get payment directly into your Bank Account

 

Grants available:

 

  • €200 for Attic insulation-Up to 30% of the heat produced in your home may be escaping through a poorly insulated roof. 
  • €250 for Wall insulation (cavity)-On average, a home loses 20 – 30% of its heat through its walls and even more if they are not properly insulated.
  •  €900 (Apartment or Mid Terrace), €1350 (Semi-Detached or End of Terrace), €1800 (Detached House) for Wall insulation (internal dry lining)
  • €1800 (Apartment or Mid Terrace), €2700 (Semi-Detached or End of Terrace), €3600 (Detached House) for Wall insulation (external dry lining)
  • €560 for Heating controls with boiler (oil or gas) upgrade-homeowners can typically reduce their energy usage by up to 20% by installing a high efficiency boiler as a replacement for older lower efficiency models.
  • €400 for Heating controls upgrade only
  • €800 for Solar heating-typically, solar hot water systems can meet 50-60% of your annual hot water usage for free.
  • €50 for BER Rating

For more information check out:

http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Better_energy_homes/homeowner/Technology_Buyers_Guides/

 

Database of registered contractors:

https://hes.seai.ie/GrantProcess/ContractorSearch.aspx

 

Database of registered BER assessors:

https://ndber.seai.ie/Pass/assessors/search.aspx

 

Online grant applications

https://hes.seai.ie/MeasureRecommendations/MeasureRecommendations.aspx

Long Term thinking and Homelessness

Every Christmas the problem of homelessness gets big press, and with steadily rising number of people out of home and sleeping rough it is only right that this issue gets some serious coverage. However I have worked in a variety of homeless services in Dublin and I know that when the Christmas spotlight fades the problem doesn’t.

Homelessness is a complex and multifaceted issue and there is no quick one size solution. However there is one fundamental thing needed – homes. Homes alone won’t solve the problem, but the failure to adequately provide social and affordable housing across Dublin City is contributing to the current crisis. The latest Homeless Framework Action Plan recently debated by Councillors rightly aims to follow a housing first approach, this is hardly possible without the houses. Continue reading

Repair and Upkeep of Deirdre Kelly Memorial, Ranelagh

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I stood proudly with my local scout group the day they unveiled the memorial to local historian Deirdre Kelly on the triangle in Ranelagh. Deirdre had been the Group leader of Leeson Park Scout Group at one time as well as been a local historian and conservation activist, and it was fitting to see a memorial dedicated to her.

However, over the years the simply yet appropriate memorial of her bike placed in the ground under glass has fallen into disrepair. This is the sort of thing that Deirdre fought against, allowing our natural and built heritage to be mistreated and left in a state of decay. Continue reading

Transparency and Accountability in Poolbeg

PoolbegIncineratorArtistsImpression_large

I am struck by the feeling that no one is in charge when it comes to the incinerator.

At a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting City Manager Owen Keegan stated he didn’t know if the incinerator would be built or not. Given that it is up to him and his officials this seems a crazy statement and shows the problems with the lack of transparency and accountability in this project. Continue reading

Redundant Phone Boxes and Redundant Thinking….

The Irish Times recently reported on the problem of abandoned and derelict phone boxes in Dublin. Dublin City Council, however, says it has no powers to remove old phone boxes.

The article dealt only with Smart Telecom’s phone boxes but it raises a wider problem. There are a great many boxes owned by other telecom operators in disrepair or abandoned across the city. These boxes, with broken phones and vandalised windows, have become little more than an obstruction on the pavement and an eyesore.

Several local business owners have told me that these boxes are a real problem. But in some areas of Dublin, as Olivia Kelly reported, their presence disqualified villages from enjoying Tidy Towns status.

The Council says it has no power to remove the boxes. But this thinking is wrong in two respects. First, the law does empower the Council to take action. Second, by doing so the Council can provide a benefit to the public beyond removing a public eyesore.

The 1990 Act 

The Council has a variety of powers under the Derelict Sites Act, 1990 [link], which defines a derelict site as one which

“detracts, or is likely to detract, to a material degree from the amenity, character or appearance of land in the neighbourhood of the land in question”.

The Council can argue that this threshold has been reached.

Not only this, but the Act, in Section 11, lays out precisely what the Council should do in this situation:

they shall serve a notice in writing on any person who appears to them to be the owner or occupier of the said land.

(2) A notice under this section shall—

(a) specify the measures which the local authority or the Minister, as the case may be, consider to be necessary in order to prevent the land from becoming or continuing to be a derelict site,

(b) direct the person on whom the notice is being served to take such measures as may be specified in the notice, and

(c) specify a period (being not less than one month) within which such measures are to be taken;

(5) Where a person on whom a notice under this section has been served does not, within the period specified in the notice or in the notice as amended, as the case may be, comply with the requirements of the notice, the local authority who served the notice may take such steps (including entry on land by authorised persons in accordance with section 30 ) as they consider reasonable and necessary to give effect to the terms of the notice or the notice as amended, as the case may be, and may recover any expense thereby incurred from the person on whom the notice or the notice as amended, as the case may be, was served and who is the owner or occupier as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Failure to comply on the part of the owner of the derelict site is an offense under the act for which the owner can be made subject to fines (see detail at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1990/en/act/pub/0014/sec0028.html#sec28). In other words, the Council can take action in the case of the derelict phone boxes, and is invested with extensive powers to do so. But it chooses not to.

The opportunity 

But beyond merely requiring that telco operators clean up their phone boxes, Section 14 of the 1990 Act gives the Council the power to

“acquire by agreement or compulsorily any derelict site situated within their functional area”

Therefore if the telco operators fail to clean up their act the Council can take over the boxes itself. And herein lies an interesting prospect. The Council could use these sites to expand the Free WiFi scheme across Dublin City. At present the Scheme operates at a limited number of locations (see map below).

The Council must step up to the telco operators and demand better behaviour.  If they do refuse to comply then it should take action under the 1990 Act, potentially taking over these sites and blanketing the City with free WiFi for the public. Far better to enable every citizen to access the Internet everywhere than continue to allow phone boxes to be left to rot.

Patrick Costello

New Election Area – New Candidate!

Dear neighbours,

I want to introduce myself to you as the new Green Party representative for our area and the new electoral ward of Rathmines/Rathgar. I will be using this website as a place to keep you updated about my work and my campaign…but before all that I felt that as a new candidate it was important for me to introduce myself and to tell you a bit about me and why I am running.

I was educated at Gonzaga, UCD, and Trinity, and grew up in our area, where I continue to live and work.

A decade working with vulnerable communities, most recently as a Child Protection Social Worker, has given me hands on experience of the tough circumstances affecting families across our locality at present. Ten years of volunteering as a Scout Leader at Leeson Park Scout Group have shown me that it takes involvement to build a community and hard work to make things better. It is now time to contribute more. I want to focus on our communities and the people who live in them.

I do not come from a political background. No one in my family has ever been involved in politics. I have decided to run now because I believe in these three things:

1. Smart planning of services and public facilities can improve our quality of life and strengthen our community.

2. Local businesses should be better supported by the Local Council.

3. Transparency and sustainable growth are needed more than ever as our city responds to changing times.

Over the coming months I will be visiting every home in our area and I hope to meet you in person. In the meantime please contact me directly and let me know whether you share these objectives and if you would be interested in working with me to make them happen.

patrick@patrickcostello.ie

@costellop

Patrick Costello