CORK county councillors vented their frustration with the continued delays in starting the flood relief schemes for both Bandon and Skibbereen, at a meeting of Cork County Council. Independent Cllr Alan Coleman raised the issue of delays with both schemes and said that people in both towns needed answers.
‘We were promised that funds would be in place for both schemes but there are incredible unexplained delays and we, as a Council, need answers,’ said Cllr Coleman.
‘The Bandon Flood Relief Scheme was put out to tender in February 2014 and then had to be withdrawn unexpectedly and we had to wait until this month for it to go out to tender again. One would assume that the funding isn’t in place if funding was withdrawn 12 months ago.’
Cllr Coleman also said it was ‘quite perplexing too’ that the proposed Skibbereen scheme had gone ahead of Bandon.
Fianna Fail Cllr Joe Carroll said that it was ‘political interference’ that the Skibbereen scheme has now been delayed.
‘We met the concerned parties in July and everything was in place, the contractor was notified and it was all systems go. Now we have to wait for Minister Howlin to sign off and I am shocked to be told that it’s off the table with no proposed date,’ said Cllr Carroll.
‘We were told to our faces that it was ready to go and now the people of Skibbereen must go through another year. I want to make it very clear that the Council did everything right and it’s the OPW’s fault. Whose codding who? Is it election gimmicks?’
Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said that they need to ‘demand facts and figures from the OPW’ in relation to the delay of both schemes.
‘We are being held to ransom and drastic action is needed and we need to bring in someone from the OPW for a meeting on this issue.’
Cllr Paul Hayes said that this was ‘another moving of goalposts’ and asked whether the funding is secured for these projects? Comparing the streets of Bandon to the ‘surface of the moon’, he said that resurfacing work cannot commence until the drainage scheme starts and he asked for proper clarification on the matter.
Cllr Noel O’Donovan said he didn’t think it was acceptable that no one could give a timeline as to when the projects can commence.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said both of the schemes are being dealt with the OPW and that Cork County Council were acting as agents for the Skibbereen scheme.
‘I can’t give any indication of when the Bandon scheme will commence and with Skibbereen we needed approval from the OPW who in turn required approval from the Dept of Expenditure and a new Environmental Impact Study needs to be done before works can commence,’ said Mr Lucey.
Speaking at the recording of ‘The People’s Debate’ with Vincent Browne in Bantry last week, Fianna Fail member Gillian Coughlan said that the fear of flooding was now becoming a disincentive to investment in the towns concerned: ‘People are afraid to invest now, and they can’t get insurance,’ she said.