The planned transfer of 431 Government jobs to Waterford and Dungarvan has been ‘deferred’ until at least 2011, under the terms of Budget 2009.
It’s not yet known what will happen to the 2.9 acre Bolton Street/Catherine Street site that the Office of Public Works bought for €8m last February to facilitate the move, or the old Glanbia site at Shandon in Dungarvan, which cost €2.1m.
Aside from the purchase of those sites, the planned decentralisation of 206 Dublin-based Ordnance Survey Ireland jobs to Dungarvan and part of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (225 posts) to Waterford city had failed to gather momentum since it was announced in 2003 and its shelving will come as little surprise in the area. However speculation now abounds as to whether the Government will sell the sites to raise much-needed capital or retain them for future development.
A spokesperson for the Government’s Finance Department told The Munster Express that any public money spent on the sites would ‘not go to waste’ and stressed that the Waterford and Dungarvan projects were not being abandoned, just ‘put on hold’. At Monday night’s monthly Council meeting City Manager Michael Walsh confirmed that some archaeological testing had been done on the Bolton Street site since the deal went through earlier this year. Other than that, however, no progress had been made and it was ‘unclear’ what future plans would hold.
The site of the proposed Dept of Environment offices on Bolton Street included the Council’s yard at Bolton
Street and the current fire station on Catherine St, which the local authority is leasing from the OPW until the new station is constructed at Ballybeg. The offices were set to form part of a landmark urban renewal plan for the area which would create a ‘Government quarter’ that also housed City Council offices in the former ESB building on the Mall. The eagerly anticipated scheme was expected to bring a substantial economic boost to the city centre and form an integral part of a larger mixed development on the
Announced by then Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy in 2003, the decentralisation scheme initially proposed the transfer of 10,300 posts to 53 locations. This later increased to 59 locations involving 10,900 public servants and by the summer of last year, some 20 departments and agencies, and 1,000 employees, had moved.
However, following the rapid deterioration in public finances this year, the Government announced in July that it was reviewing the entire programme and Tuesday’s Budget indicated that the majority of projects would be put on hold, pending a review in 2011.