Councillors cough up to pay for footpath
There's nothing like an election campaign to strengthen the hand of residents taking a stand on a local issue, such as the householders of Magdalen's Terrace who engaged in a five-day stand-off over a new footpath outside their doors.
Virgin Media dug up the old paved footpath to install fibre optic broadband cables and were about to re-instate it with tarmac when the residents objected and said they wanted concrete or paving.
Reportedly. they had a bad experience with tarmac during summer roadworks a year ago when it was dragged into homes on people's feet causing damage to flooring and carpets.
The residents organised a petition which was supported and signed by about 40 people and they presented it to Virgin Media which initially relented and said it would grant the residents' wishes and put concrete down but the Council wasn't prepared to cover the additional cost as it didn't have the necessary funds.
Tarmac would have been cheaper, quicker and less disruptive as the 180-metre long footpath is in a tight space on a busy thoroughfare requiring the main road and access to houses to be blocked for a concreted footpath, with ensuing traffic management issues and a longer waiting time to set.
The Council told residents that tarmac would be laid last Wednesday morning, despite their objections, but the householders vowed to try and prevent the work and further discussions then took place between Virgin Media, the local authority and councillors.
A compromise settlement was eventually reached with three councillors - George Lawlor, Tom Forde and David Hynes - agreeing to pay money from from their annual discretionary allowances, to cover the extra cost of laying a concrete footpath.
It is understood the amount to be paid by the three councillors is €2,500 each.
Cllr. Lawlor said that in fairness to the residents, there is no other footpath in the town that is made of tarmac. All the other footpaths are concreted.
'We thrashed out all the options and in the end it was agreed that contributions would be made from the councillors' discretionary fund which is part of the General Municipal Allowance. Under this fund, councillors can contribute to specific engineering projects in the Borough area', he said.
'In fairness to Virgin Media as well, they weren't trying to pull a fast one. They were just trying to get the job done as fast as possible'.
Cllr. David Hynes said he was happy to make a contribution in order to resolve the situation. 'Why should the people of Magdalen's Terrace be treated any differently', he added.