THE flood relief works in Clonakilty are causing more loss and harm than the actual flooding which devastated the town, according to Clonakilty traders.
The €10 million flood relief works is being met with a litany of complaints including mounting anger over huge traffic delays, the lack of a proper traffic management plan, the lack of public representation on the project’s steering committee, and the financial hit that local businesses are taking, said Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF).
After speaking to traders, he said: ‘The feeling is that the work is causing more loss and hardship than the flooding.’
According to the councillor, the lack of a proper traffic management plan has resulted in some businesses being effectively ‘closed’ because the misuse of the yellow box is causing access to their premises to be blocked.
Speaking at a meeting of the Western Committee on Monday, Cllr O’Sullivan said traders will be seeking relief on their rates to offset their losses, as Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) estimated businesses were down by as much as 70%.
Cllr O’Sullivan called for some representatives of the West Cork Municipal District, as well as representatives from Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce, to be included at the steering committee meetings because business people and homeowners are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of information.
The councillors also vented their frustration about the proposed road closure along a 300m stretch of the road from the roundabout at Faxbridge to Ring village as part of the Clonakilty flood relief works.
Cllr Hayes said hopes that a schedule of works would result in the project being completed on a phased basis have been dashed following the placing of an advert by the contractor, Ward & Burke, seeking a road closure order from August 7th to March 22nd.
As part of the application process, Cork County Council is obliged to advertise it, and the public has been given an opportunity to make submissions.
Those submissions – which before going to press were edging towards the 400 mark – had to be delivered to the planning office at Norton House in Skibbereen or emailed to the council.
Cllr Hayes confirmed that two landowners in the area have offered the use of private property – two fields that run adjacent to the flood relief works – that could, with the agreement of the OPW and insurance cover, be used to open another lane of traffic or provide temporary pedestrian access to the roundabout at SuperValu.
During the discussion at Monday’s meeting it also emerged that €1 million has been provided for road resurfacing works on the N71 from Faxbridge to Lisselan – a stretch of road way that is part of the Ring village diversion.
With the work scheduled to start on Monday, Cllr O’Sullivan asked if they could be postponed, but Divisional Manager, Clodagh Henehan, said the timing might already be a condition of the contract.
Cllr Hayes summarised the difficulty saying: ‘This is the perfect storm. People are asking how can we sign off on a convergence of projects starting at the same time, in the same part of town, especially when the Ring diversion route will be subject to another stop-go system.’
Meanwhile, Ring residents are threatening to stop the works going ahead unless they are ‘met half way.’
The group, which meets every Monday night, posted on Facebook: ‘You could build a highway in eight-months! The Council, the OPW and Ward & Burke have ignored us to date.’
Saying they had agreed that ‘every force necessary will be used to stop any progression of works until someone meets us half-way’ they added: ‘We have provided practical solutions and they have ignored these. If the Council grants this road closure, the locals will take necessary action to stop any works starting.’