The year 2019 overall has been mixed, when we do review it in a short summary.
There was great tension towards the year end, as we waited to see would a council budget would be passed.As often happens the issue went to the wire and saw some members of the Mayor Pact opposing it finding it difficult to pass.
The Irish Water bills certainly made life difficult for the council but with a commercial rates increase part of the package it was a hard pill to swallow.Retail trade in the city is tough, parking is expensive at times, depending where you go that it does put off some shoppers who may feel going online from home might suit, this is happening with the youth already.
The plan for the North Quays is going ahead. What will be the rates position? Will there be some element of rates incentive there and if so this could aggrieve rate payers on this side of the river? Who now must pay more after last week?
We understand when the merger took place of both councils, rates were not supposed to rise but now this has occurred.We also saw from the council finances that some commercial rate payers find it hard to pay and there are big some big arrears building up, as some traders find it hard to pay.This will be a challenge in the years ahead.This coming year there will be elections and more housing will be a key priority. Councils must be allowed more money to borrow to build housing but It must be sustainable and like with ratepayers some council tenants are not paying the full sum and have arrears. It will be difficult to justify. More council if current tenants not all paying and future tenants might do the same.
The Housing Minister seems under huge pressure. Will a change of Government in the spring improve the picture? Planning is slow so no easy solution to fast track housing or get more temporary housing.Across the Irish Sea, the Conservatives have gained a majority in Westminster, Brexit will go ahead early in new year. Judging by this week , more brinkmanship is likely by PM Johnson trying to find a fantasy deal and not pay any money to Europe, in a mind set of having one’s cake and eating it.
Populism and nationalism is on the rise in the UK. Old industrial towns feel left out and falling behind. Waterford here has fallen behind but we do have new industries and tourism also.
Will Ireland follow UK populism in a coming elections? There is some anti immigrant feeling building but no major anti feeling building up against outsiders in this region.
The highest priority for this region will be the new university and a start made to it in 2020.