Battle over Castlefreke footpaths bill is a ‘reflection of West Cork' community'

February 8th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Members of the Castlefreke and Rathbarry community have been raising funds for footpaths for the walks. (Photo: Don Healy)

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A West Cork councillor has sought clarification, in writing, how funding is to be spent on a walking route at Castlefreke.

A WEST Cork councillor has sought clarification, in writing, how funding is to be spent on a walking route at Castlefreke.

Speaking at a meeting of the Western Committee of Cork County Council, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said there are two sections – namely at ‘The Avenue’ and the road adjoining Long Strand – that need to be developed to make the Castlefreke walks project complete.

The councillor raised the issue at the meeting to ascertain if the funds raised by the community group, Castlefreke – Our Woods Our Walks, or COWOW for short – would be used as part of the proposed Community Involvement Scheme project.

Cllr O’Sullivan pointed out that over 100 members of the public donated €7,275 as part of a GoFundMe campaign – a figure that represented a 50% contribution towards the overall cost of the project. And he said that money had ready been ‘received, receipted and cashed by the Council.’

In a supplemental question, Cllr O’Sullivan asked division manager Clodagh Henehan to confirm that Cork County Council has jurisdiction to create the footpaths along public roads to within 1.5m of the roads edge, especially when these works are in the interests of health and safety.

Cllr O’Sullivan said he tabled the motion because a local landowner, Stephen Evans Freke, had made a statement saying that he was committed to funding the balance of the cost of the project in association with Rathbarry Tidy Towns. 

Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) supported the motion, saying the community was seeking clarification on this issue.

In response, Clodagh Henehan said: ‘It is amazing – and a reflection of the West Cork community – that there is a battle over who shall pay for it.’

The divisional manager said the Council worked with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to get approval for the Community Involvement Scheme, which will cost €105,000, of which €15,750 will be contributed locally.

She confirmed: ‘Coillte came forward and said some of the walk is within their jurisdiction, and they have agreed to fund what is within their area.’

However, the divisional manager said that because more footpath is required along the R598, the Council is exploring the opportunity to roll over the funding onto the R598 and that may split the application in two and may require two community supports.

In the meantime, she said, the Council is trying to ascertain how much is needed. She acknowledged that Stephen Evans-Freke of Castlefreke has ‘generously offered to fund some of the footpath, but it may be that we will do them in two parts.’

The manager said the Council engineer believes permission is needed from the adjoining landowner ‘regarding drainage’ to develop the footpath along the area known as The Avenue.

‘That is where you do need the co-operation of your local landowner,’ she added.

The divisional manager also said: ‘That is ongoing and hopefully we will progress both and have an extended walkway’, but she also promised that she would come back to the councillors with a full report.

Cllr O’Sullivan said: ‘I don’t care where the funding comes from, as long as the money raised is used for what it was intended for.’

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