THE chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, has issued a statement relating to the Bandon Flood Group, and has said it is now ‘time to move forward’.
Following last week’s exclusive article in The Southern Star – which reported the Council had decided to cease communications with the group – Mr Lucey welcomed and acknowledged a statement from Flood Group member Gillian Powell in which she had said she had no knowledge of texts or emails sent to the Council on the night of January 25th.
‘Clearly Gillian was unwittingly caught up in this without her knowledge and, as a person who has engaged at all times in a courteous manner with the Council and has made positive suggestions on improvements to local co-ordination for flood response events, I welcome this clarification,’ said Mr Lucey.
Mr Lucey indicated that the Council’s decision was not taken lightly and he added that a new form of community engagement is required for the town, now that tenders for the OPW-led scheme are being assessed and that it is being treated as a priority for progression.
Ms Powell, an independent flood candidate in the forthcoming election, has welcomed Mr Lucey’s clarification on the matter.
Gillian also pointed out that the Bandon Flood Group, which has 300 people on its mailing list, ‘have at all times ensured that everyone in the community was informed about what was going on’ and they have given them the opportunity to have their say.
Maria McLaughlin of the Bandon Flood Group said that while things did get heated in communications with the Council, ‘stress levels were high’ with the possibility of another flooding and they hoped now that things were sorted.
In a statement to The Southern Star, Mr Lucey has suggested that, moving forward, there is now a real opportunity for Bandon to build on the type of community support shown in the aftermath of recent flooding, but that it needs to be more organised and planned across a range of areas.
‘Bandon is going to face significant upheaval and many may not realise the significance of same,’ he said.
‘While the flood relief works will focus mainly on the river and adjoining lands, many may not realise that up to 15km of pipework will need to be laid as part of the drainage scheme being progressed by Irish Water.
‘Following that, the plan will be to commence streetscape and pavement upgrades, all of which require careful management and co-ordination in managing the inevitable impacts.’
Mr Lucey added that as a result of these works, he felt a structure could now be organised around a number of key themes of town development.
‘A community resilience group could focus on strengthening community co-ordinations with the Council and others for times of severe weather events, particularly focusing on vulnerable areas and people,’ he suggested.
‘There are many groups and assets which, combined through a focused and planned approach, could deliver considerable added value.’
Mr Lucey added that Cork County Council will continue to ‘be available and open to active engagement and discussion on how a partnership of this nature could best be progressed.’
Mr Lucey also indicated that the final phase of the Bandon Transportation and Public Realm Enhancement Plan is expected to be brought to a final public consultation stage before summer.
‘This enhancement plan which builds on the Matrix report of a number of years ago will set out some proposals for rerouting and improving traffic flow in the town and will be the basis for guiding significant investment in streetscape improvements in a number of years time,’ he also said.