Concerns over Gateway funding and decentralisation were aired at Monday night’s City Council meeting in light of the economic downturn and consequential government cutbacks.
Cllr. Seamus Ryan raised the subject, enquiring of City Manager Michael Walsh as to the up-to-date position and calling on Minister Martin Cullen and the other TDs in the constituency to use their influence in the matter.
The Council was looking to Gateway Innovation Funding for the proposed pedestrian bridge across the river from the area of The Clock Tower and also for the city’s proposed Viking Quarter.
The Manager said the position was not entirely clear but he expected clarification before the year was out. He certainly hoped there was no question of abandoning either Gateway project, or decentralisation, despite negative soundings on the latter from government sources. He said the site at Bolton St, purchased for decentralisation of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Department, had been archaeologically tested over the last few months and the proposed buildings were currently at design stage. Cllr. Davy Daniels said decentralisation was vital for Waterford, with 225 civil service jobs at stake. He advocated an approach to the Taoiseach on the issue and suggested the Council had become slack in its quest for something which had been promised years ago.
But Cllr. Tom Cunningham took exception to the latter point, inviting Cllr. Daniels to specify how they had been slack and accusing him of playing politics, with the local elections looming.
Cllr. Daniels vehemently denied the accusation, making the point that he had been campaigning for decentralisation for decades. “The people are well capable of making up their minds as to who is genuine and who is not”, he added.
He went on to get an assurance that €2m had been allocated from central funds for the Kilbarry Bog Natural Heritage Scheme and that money was secure.