Row over lack of flowers on roundabouts
Labour councillor George Lawlor has criticised Wexford District Council over delays in planting flowers and shrubs on roundabouts around the town in advance of the arrival of National Tidy Towns competition inspectors.
'What is happening to the roundabouts around Wexford town. It's June now and no planting has been done. They are an important feature in our Tidy Towns entry. I raised it at the last meeting and was told there was a long-term plan for the roundabouts but it's the here and now I'm interested in. They really don't look well at the minute', said Cllr. Lawlor.
Borough Engineer Sean Kavanagh said the Rosslare and Duncannon roundabouts will be planted this week.
He said the Council is proposing an all-year-round planting scheme for the three roundabouts and is looking at giving businesses advertising rights to finance the costs.
'The first one to be rolled out will be the New Ross roundabout. We employed two landscape architects to come up with designs', he said, adding that the second set of designs only landed on his desk three days earlier.
'We will be bringing it to the members next month. In the interim, the Duncannon and Rosslare roundabouts will be planted with begonias (this) week. We will be grassing the New Ross roundabout in the meantime. They are being maintained. There is no funding'.
Cllr. Lawlor asked where the money for planting came from previously and Mr. Kavanagh told him it came from Transport Infrastructure Ireland under national road maintenance and the budget has been cut.
'We have a silver medal in the Tidy Towns Competition and we could lose that because of a TTI budget cut. These roundabouts are an important feature in our town. We have thousands of visitors arriving during the summer. We are a tourist town', responded Cllr. Lawlor. Director of Services Tony Larkin said budgets are being cut all the time and management have to make decisions and adapt. These discussions were fine in the days of Wexford Corporation but not now when there are funding demands elsewhere in the District.
'There are other ways of funding these things. We have discretionary spending for members, for example', he said. 'I know you are personally aware that Sean is working hard on this. There is no point in beating up the engineer about this', added the Director of Services.
'I am not personally aware of anything', replied Cllr. Lawlor. 'Will we have bare roundabouts where we had flowers before. There is no point complaining afterwards when the Tidy Towns judges come and we lose points.'
'I understand budgets are being cut but let's make contingency plans for it,' he added.
The Borough Engineer re-iterated that planting would take place this week. 'We have plans for the New Ross one to move into a year-round concept that will be self-funding and will be a huge improvement on what we have'.
'I welcome the year-round concept and it will be an addition to the town but the lead-in time should have been much longer. Roundabouts without plants don't look good', said Cllr. Lawlor.