Drogheda City Status Group today said the Government had abandoned its duty to plan strategically for the future of its citizens through its failure in publishing a credible and sustainable blueprint for the next two decades.
The group, which has been campaigning for City Status for Drogheda, has rejected Drogheda’s third tier positioning in the plan and said the overall document was illegal and tainted.
City Status Group spokesman said: “In spite of assurances by then Local Government Minister Simon Coveney TD to our committee that the 2040 plan would be evidence based, Drogheda has again found itself cast aside . With the draft version of the plan accessed and altered by vested interests, this singularly brands this report as illegal and tainted.”
“We had hoped that the Government would have the courage and the determination to provide a realistic blueprint for the country in planning for the future but all they have left us with is a shambles of a document that has bent the knee to various vested, political interests and provided a one for everyone in the audience report that ultimately is completely meaningless,” the spokesman said.
“This leaves the entire north east without a city or regional capital, which Drogheda, through its population alone, would justify. We are now officially a third -rate quasi development town.”
The City Status Group had provided a detailed planning study, based on evidence, pinpointing how Drogheda should be granted City Status under the National Planning Framework (NPF). The report, from Dr Brian Hughes, a chartered planning and development expert, argued that with a population of 83,000 people, Drogheda urgently required new administrative structures to ensure meaningful planning and coherent development in the years ahead.
The Hughes report pointed to the latest census figures which effectively made Drogheda the fifth largest city in the State – larger than Waterford City – and enjoying a population growth rate of 80% between 1996 to 2016. The report was presented to Government along with a petition with over 3,000 names as its submission under the NPF guidelines.
The spokesman said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the expert report we submitted, which detailed how the population rise demanded on economic and planning grounds that Drogheda should be administered locally and not effectively the plaything of local administrations in Louth and Meath, has been disregarded. Our worst fears have been met that once again, when the tough decisions had to be made, an Irish Government has decided to pass the parcel and place a major impediment to the future prosperity of the people of Drogheda.”
“Foolishly we thought that matters might be different this time. Drogheda was ignored in the 2002 National Spatial Strategy which was designed to develop gateway towns and hubs but ended up being a massive fudge. We have been cast aside again as our political masters have abysmally failed in their duty towards its citizens,” he said.
“We are now going to consult the 83,000 people of Drogheda and its environs as to how best to assert our democratic right to proper administration under our putting people first policy. We will outline our plans in due course. This may have political repercussions down the line.”