Fine Gael Deputy John Deasy has initiated talks with the IDA and the Office of Public Works regarding the two decentralisation sites in Dungarvan and Waterford City. The latter has acquired both properties at a collective cost believed to be well over €10 million.
“I’ve met with the head of the Office of Public Works, Sean Benton and asked him to consider the possible development of the sites in Shandon, Dungarvan and Bolton Street in Waterford. I’ve also been in discussion with the property director in the IDA who has made it clear they will add the sites to their property database if a request is made by the relevant local authority,” he says.
It was announced in the budget that the planned decentralisation of Ordinance Survey Ireland to Dungarvan and part of the Department of the Environment to the city was to be deferred pending a review in 2011.
“There is general acceptance that the likelihood of decentralisation to these locations occurring at any time in the future is now extremely remote,” Deputy Deasy says. “This follows countless announcements regarding imminent decentralisation to these locations made by Fianna Fail councillors and TDs since 2002.”
In his view, “It’s time to move on. Both sites are prime locations for development and have town centre zonings. I’ve spoken to officials in Dungarvan Town Council and Waterford City Council about this and they have informed me they will now make formal contact with the OPW and the IDA about the future of these sites.”
The city site is part of a development plan for the Bolton Street/Catherine Street area which includes increasing capacity at Waterford courthouse, with offices for the probation service, as well as a public-private partnership element incorporating a multi-storey car park.
“We can’t afford to wait around for something that may never happen,” believes the Waterford backbencher, who is supported in this view by his party colleague, Dungarvan councillor Damien Geoghegan.
“Despite the fact that people were clearly deceived about decentralisation, there needs to be some realism and practicality brought into this. The OPW have made it clear to me they will consider any worthwhile proposal and would be prepared to approach the Department of Finance in this regard.”
A list of 50 projects around the country have effectively been scrapped by the budget decentralisation announcement. In the case of Dungarvan and Waterford, full decentralisation would have collectively meant approximately 430 extra government jobs between both locations.
Mr Deasy says: “We are in a situation in this country where many people are losing their jobs and businesses locally are finding it difficult because of extremely low consumer confidence and restrictive credit lines. These two sites are now government assets and should be used to get money flowing through the local economy.”