Tuesday, 24th April 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Made of Waterford!

It was a busy week last week. What with the news of the North Quay Strategic Development Zone and Leo’s bandwagon rolling into the City. "The 2040 NDP Tour" was in full swing and those busy bees in the Special Communications Unit were doing what they do best, spinning us a yarn!

Everyone was very excited and relieved on Thursday last, to read across various social media sources, that the North Quays would go ahead unhindered. It appeared that the planning process had this time worked in Waterford Inc’s favour. Unlike many a scuppered past development, this time there were to be no road blocks. No insurmountable barriers and no "Serial-objectors", using their pens to blunt our sword.

The announcements were made by various media savvy Councillors. Immediately after the Mayor declared at the monthly Council Meeting, that An Bord Pleanala had corresponded with the Executive, confirming that "No valid objections had been received". It would surely be plain sailing from this hour forward? Waterford City would be able to grow, expand and develop at an accelerated pace.

No sooner had we caught our collective breath, when the rug was well and truly pulled from under our feet!

News started to trickle through, that one "Valid objection" had in fact been received by An Bord Pleanala. Apparently, this was delivered around the 6th of March, though nobody is really quite sure. The reason given for not noticing this paperwork, was that storm Emma and the Beast from the East had caused "Issues with the post!"

I am pretty sure, with ALL the publicity and mountains of paperwork, that the guys and gals at An Bord Pleanala, must have known that this development would be Waterford’s Renaissance. Yet indefensibly, they managed to misplace, loose or ignore a fundamental part of the process. Should they not have been extra vigilant with the Council’s application?

To communicate that "All is good", when in fact it is not, is unpardonable incompetence.

We in Waterford, will have to wait that wee bit longer, to see if the planning process finds in favour of our North Quays. Whilst it is disappointing that a person, persons or an organisation has objected. The process allows this to happen, being part and parcel of a free democratic society. I have no doubt, that when the name or names are revealed, the keyboard warriors will have a field day with said objector/s. Stoking the internet fires with bile, vitriol and lots of bad grammar.

Just before Leo and his considerable cavalcade rolled into town, we had the wind well and truly taken out of our sails. We were expecting so much from this, the latest leg, of the National Development Plan Tour. Waterford was finally on the map. Leo, supported by Paschal, would be playing to an adoring audience at the WIT Arena. He would have the opportunity to localise his NDP, demonstrating exactly what it would deliver for Waterford.

This was a wonderful opportunity to make that "BIG" funding announcement, on the back of An Bord Pleanala’s faux pas? Leo’s magically, mystic, new Spin Unit would be well aware of the Department’s boob, only 24 hours earlier. He would make amends. He would shine in his natural environment - the stage. He would play to the audience and waiting media, "Oh no he wouldn’t!"

Alas, the tour schedule must have been so demanding that Leo forgot to cement the Government’s commitment and our plea for circa €60,000,000 of infrastructural works. Didn’t he also forget to commit to a funding for our second Cath Lab. No money to allow a regional airport to grow. He even made it very clear that the Technological University title was very likely to go to a Dublin consortium first, rather than the Waterford and Carlow axis.

A gruelling tour schedule had obviously muddled his lines. He was after all off to greener fields. The good old U.S. of A. was calling him for the annual St Patricks’ Day/Week expedition. A much more palatable audience, than the "Quiet people" of Waterford.

The highs and lows of Waterford’s development history are well written. I just hope that these, "Best laid schemes o’ mice and men", don’t go awry.

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