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An Post Kilmacanogue

Two years ago, An Post closed their Kilmacanogue shop due to ‘circumstances beyond An Post’s control’ and the village was promised a review on the decision by the post service. A year later, An Post announced the locations of 159 post offices that would close as part of its restructuring plan. Any restructuring plan of state services is politically sensitive and subject to a lot of local pressure. But the handling of An Post Kilmacanogue’s case was closure by stealth, to stop politicians from interfering in its plans.

I see Kilmacanogue as a village that has grown dramatically in the past twenty years, but the most basic services have failed to keep up. With only one pub and a petrol station, it means people on the receipt of social welfare will have to travel 6km to pick up their entitlements, which they could have walked to collect, 3 years ago.

The failure of Minister Harris and the other Deputies to not realise the area had been sold a pup by An Post is shocking. We’ve seen An Post reverse closure decisions following intense local campaigns and political action. South Kerry is a good example, where a shop’s closure leaves no services for locals in the area and would force people to travel to an alternative post office 15km away in Waterville. The rationale for the reversal was based off the detrimental social impact in the area. How is this different to Kilmac’s situation?

Why can’t our TDs like Simon Harris, who’s in a cabinet position lead a campaign along these lines? My only conclusion is he doesn’t care.

Cycling Greenway for North Wicklow

The Blessington lakes were named one of Ireland’s top 10 cycling routes last year by Ireland’s active travel guide. Not at all surprising, with stunning views, a clean environment, and great visitor spots; Wicklow has so much more potential to capitalise on day trippers from the city.

Anyone who lives in Enniskerry knows come Saturday and Sunday, roads will be jammed with hundreds of cyclists from the City, exploring the wonderful sights North Wicklow has to offer. Locals will also be cognisant of the number of tail-backs and accidents that have occurred as a result of infrastructure not being suitable for everyone’s needs.

I believe the only way forward is to work with neighbouring Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to build a new greenway that can dramatically increase the number of cyclists coming to North Wicklow. This greenway will deliver much-needed visitors to our excellent cafes, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, while also reducing the number of cyclists on the main transport arteries between towns. More importantly, it will put North Wicklow on the map as an accessible outdoor tourism adventure activity, unrivaled in neighbouring counties.

It’s a win-win for everyone. If elected I want to deliver seamless co-operation with local authorities that will deliver streamlined cross-boundary infrastructure projects. Collaboration is key to the future of our area.

Delivering a sustainable volume of housing developments in Wicklow

Wicklow has always proved itself a cut above other counties in Leinster for its stunning scenery, lakes and heritage. Over the past twenty years, the continuous urban sprawl in Dublin has been rolling towards Wicklow and with a recent surge in planning permissions, it will make North Wicklow the new Dublin suburb.

Of course, I welcome new housing, but I think we need to emulate the great cities of the world to put a hard-stop to over development and under-utilisation of residential land in urban areas. In the UK, they’ve introduced a green belt policy for controlling urban growth. The idea is for a ring of countryside where urbanisation will be resisted, maintaining an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can be expected to prevail. Is this not exactly what we need?

I believe this green belt will make local authorities in Dublin think harder about their housing policies and the need to build up rather than countless housing estates of semi-detached homes. It will allow us in Wicklow to protect our countryside and scenery while at the same time delivering a more sustainable volume of housing developments.

I believe a green belt will allow us to play up our environmental strengths and deliver niche tourism offerings like new greenways, distillery tourism and Powerscourt and many more.

Bus Connects: Concerns about the proposed 213 route

Bus Connects is a welcome investment into transport services in the Greater Dublin Area and we should work with the National Transport Authority to optimise the new network to connect our towns and villages in North Wicklow.

However, I do have concerns about the proposed 213 route, which will merge the 185 and 44 bus routes. I acknowledge that the proposed route has its drawbacks, but I believe it also has some benefits, like going to or near all the major Dublin universities. However, I am concerned that the route would not go through Dundrum anymore but rather near hubs where other buses or the Luas could bring people there. Though a major reformation of the bus network is not going to please everyone, we need to have local input about the proposed destination changes, frequency and pricing.

One issue that needs to be addressed is the consistency of the buses, coming every 40 minutes, without any regard for peak hour travel. I think this needs to be amended to take account of rush-hour and the frequency should be increased to every 20 minutes between 7 and 8 in the morning, as well as between 5 and 6.30.

In response to these major changes, pricing of tickets will need to be more flexible for customers’ needs and ensure services are prompt and consistent.

Free Wi-Fi in public realms in small villages and town centers

Wicklow is a dynamic, exciting and beautiful place to live, with amazing outdoor leisure spots and quaint villages to spend the weekends drinking coffee and relaxing. Over the coming years Bray will have new public places like the new town centre development and new housing in Fassaroe that we’ll have to cater for, while also improving standards of living elsewhere.

Wicklow needs to take the next step digitally and be the first county in Ireland to offer free Wi-Fi in public realms in small villages and town centres. We need to encourage more people to go to public realms, we need small businesses with niche merchandise to trade online with relative ease. By having Wi-Fi in public realms, it’ll act as a draw for locals who don’t have reliable access to these services at home, further enhancing our community.

As a local I know all too well the difficulties of getting fast and reliable Wi-Fi, it’s out of sync with the modern world and the latest debacle with the National Broadband Plan highlights this. If Wicklow wants its small businesses to survive on the high street, they need to make the high street an experience. We have most of the ingredients for this, great sights, culinary experiences; we just need to take the next digital evolution to enhance this.

The great challenge of my generation will be to buy a home or even to move out of our parents’ homes in our twenties. The housing crisis will have profound long-term socio-economic consequences for this country.

Working with national services our Council can deliver streamlined homeless services in Wicklow to ensure resources are reaching those most in needs. These services are already manned by excellent people, but we need to ensure that they’re provided with the right infrastructure to allow them to do their jobs and eliminate homelessness in all its forms.

This crisis has developed due to decades of lack of vision and foresight about the future needs of the Capital. Dublin has developed as a rolling sprawl of semi-detached estates; when really Dublin needed more apartments within urban areas well serviced by public transport.

The underutilisation of land density on the DART line has pushed the suburbs to Bray, with the vast majority of people in Wicklow now commuting to Dublin, putting pressure on our transport networks. This is only going one way and we need to take the necessary steps to ensure North Wicklow’s heritage and green space is protected. Wicklow County Council needs to collaborate more with Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to better use land densities in areas like Sandyford, Dundrum and Carrickmines, which have huge potential for new homes.

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