Colossal damage being done to local business by flood relief works, former Mayor says
"Everyone living and working in the area is understandably aggrieved by the colossal damage flowing from the works." So said former Mayor of Fermoy Michael Hanley this week of the flood protection works, and particularly phase 2 of the scheme.
Announcing plans to bring before the next meeting of the Traffic Management Committee, of which he is chair, a proposal that car parking charges be suspended until September 30 in the town's car parks with the OPW recompensing Fermoy Town Council for the loss in revenue, he described the flood protection works as "the elephant in the room."
Cllr Hanley stressed that traffic disruption at present arising from the works wasn't a reflection on the Gardai, whom he said are doing an excellent job." He also commended Ger Barry of the OPW, council engineer Brendan O'Gorman who is overseeing the works on behalf of Cork County Council and town clerk Pauline Moriarty.
There's too much posturing going on, mostly political, in connection with the works, he believes. "They must be left to get on with their job and get out of here as soon as possible. It's a work in progress, it can't be halted now," he said.
"We do have input into how traffic is managed through the traffic management committee. I have repeatedly tried through the committee to impress on the bypass management that some temporary solution should have been arrived at for the duration of the works, especially with regard to the bridge," Cllr Hanley said, adding "I remain disappointed by the concept of major public works being conducted in the main during office hours. It would have been easy to do the works in the early morning and late evenings on bright spring and summer days. A lot of valuable time has been lost.
"The scarcity of funding I can understand but I find it wholly irresponsible from the powers that be that in the planning of this scheme, especially phase 2, the necessary funding wasn't inserted to cover those aspects of the job that clash violently with those in the midst of it trying to do business."
Making the comparison with Cork city, which he said had suffered "enormous pain" when the streets were been redone, he said "The one plus the city has is substantial footfall which helps bring business back. Fermoy, by contrast, is isolated in that context."
"The message that it's important to get across is that hundreds of jobs are at risk from the reality of the combination of the worst recession ever and the nature of this programme of works."
It's in an effort to recognise the importance of Fermoy's customers and the fact that the town is still open for business every day that he's proposing to waive charges at the town's car parks until the end of September, he explained. The OPW needs to fund the measure however.
"Otherwise we can't achieve our aim. It's incumbent on them, it's a must," he stressed.
Pointing out that all avenues to minimise disruption are discussed on a daily basis across the team which includes the OPW, the contractor, the Gardai and sometimes himself as chairman of the traffic management committee, he appealed to customers, saying: "We are in difficulty on a number of fronts, you might think of ways and means of shopping at different times. Businesses too might think of ways of best facilitating customers during the next three months. Nothing of this magnitude has been seen in Fermoy before, it calls for extreme measures."
"There is no doubt but that the quality of the finished project will be superb and we look forward to that enormously," Cllr Hanley said, revealing that he plans to propose that they get to work on a post-flood plan Fermoy, and that he'll work on that in the main with the Enterprise Board and also with the town council.
The former Mayor harked back to another major plan previously affecting Fermoy, saying that the bypass was democratically voted on on behalf of the community by the majority of town councillors.
"My problem with that decision was that it offered three major choices. They chose the present route because they understood there would be an on and off road to it. Had we known that it was to be so brutally chopped by An Bord Pleanala I'm confident it wouldn't have been the route chosen. It would have been a mile further east, taking in traffic from Ballyduff, Clondulane etc. It could have been arranged to have it toll free of the town like Mitchelstown. That's history. We can't turn back the clock," he said, making the point that history can't be repeated with the flood plan.
Friday 5th July 10:36am