CORK County Council has told the Bandon Flood Group that it will not engage with it in any future dealings related to the town’s flood relief scheme.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to elected members of the Bandon/Kinsale Municipal District, Cork County Council said that notwithstanding what had previously been ‘generally cordial’ communication with the group, it is ‘withdrawing from all communication and engagement’ with it.
This move was described in the letter – signed by Council chief executive Tim Lucey – as ‘unprecedented’ and one that ‘had not being taken lightly’.
The letter stated the move was in direct response to certain ‘incidents’ and ‘communications by email and text’ that were sent to both Mr Lucey and the senior executive engineer for the Bandon area, on Monday night January 25th and early morning of Tuesday January 26th. While accepting that ‘matters of flooding are particularly challenging for communities’ the letter stated that the content and ‘tone’ of these communications was described as ‘completely unacceptable’ by Mr Lucey.
On the night in question Tim Lucey and the senior executive engineer received numerous communications that a number of areas in Bandon town were flooding. As a result of this, there was an activation of a ‘call-out response’ from the Bandon Area staff. The chief executive himself personally inspected the town that night also but could find no evidence of flooding.
The letter also outlined that ‘the unacceptable communications persisted, despite phone calls being made to the Flood Group by the Council’s senior executive engineer.
‘Indeed a text which alleged that North Main Street was flooding came post our senior executive engineer speaking with members of the group. All of this occurred at a time when the Bandon Flood Early Warning System was indicating water levels which were below any flood warning level, thus adding to our confusion,’ said Mr Lucey.
The call-out of Council staff due to the false alarms resulted in the ‘unnecessary misuse of Council resources’, according to the chief executive. As a result, it has now ‘undermined completely’ the relationship between Cork County Council and the Bandon Flood Group.
‘There are boundaries of courtesy and respect that must be the cornerstone of all engagements,’ the letter added, and that the nature of communications had led to a ‘serious undermining of trust.’
‘With Bandon facing several years of disruption due to planned works on the flood relief scheme, and the main drainage scheme, there is a need for Bandon businesses to consider how they wish to organise themselves to engage with the Council and its Municipal District, both in advance of the works and during same,’ he stated.
Mr Lucey said that ‘there is a real need for the development of a grouping which can work proactively with the Council as a partner in the town’s future development.’
However, Mr Lucey has reassured councillors that his decision ‘will not lead to any lack of urgency or attention’ being given to flooding issues.
When contacted by The Southern Star, a member of Bandon Flood Group said they had no comment to make.
Meanwhile, after years of waiting, it has been confirmed that remedial works on the Bandon River will finally begin next week.
The Council will be putting down 15 non-return valves at all entry points from the river, as well as raising the embankment at the Lidl car cark.
‘This is welcome news for the people of the town as they have been to hell and back in recent months. Having experienced unacceptable delays with an overly bureaucratic tendering process, this action is a reprieve for these resilient people,’ said Cllr Alan Coleman.