Monday, March 20, 2023

Two public meetings held in Tramore library last Thursday with the 6pm meeting rapidly descending into fraught scenes of shouting, frustration and anger.

A CONTROVERSIAL vote on proposed Section 38 changes to Convent Hill, Sweetbriar, and St. Otteran’s Terrace in Tramore is due to be voted on at tonight’s Metropolitan Council meeting.

The proposal itself concerns footpath widening and pedestrian crossings, however they form part of the contentious Safe Routes to School scheme, which has been adopted on Convent Hill, in the vicinity of the national school.

The closure of Convent Hill does not form part of the vote being considered, as these changes were brought in by Waterford Council following an application from Glór na Mara to be one of the schools to bring in a ‘School Street’. While there was much discussion about this over the last year, there was little consultation with the nearby residents and the scheme was implemented, initially on a trial basis.

Two public meetings were held in Tramore library last Thursday, chaired by Metropolitan mayor, Cllr. Jason Murphy, and attended by Michael Murphy, engineer for Waterford Council, who has newly come in to the role following the departure of James Murray.

The 6pm meeting had the largest turnout and it rapidly descended into fraught scenes of shouting, frustration, and anger. For residents of the neighbouring estates, it was the first opportunity to address the entire scheme and they had much to say.

Sweetbriar resident, Pat Liston said the situation had become “neighbour against neighbour”, as those in favour of the changes lived near those who were vehemently against it. He described his reality of seeing how the traffic had migrated from the school to block up the area of Sweetbriar. His concerns regarding pollution, traffic fumes, and neighbours being blocked in to their own drives for extended periods were echoed by many in attendance.

His neighbour, Nicola Crowley offered a positive view of the changes, agreeing that driver behaviour needed to be addressed but said the changes have meant she is now able to safely walk her children to school without fear of walking in the direct path of traffic.

Cllr. Joe Kelly, who is one of the six locally elected representatives for Tramore, compared the Council’s approach to Russia, saying: “We live in a democracy, we can’t just force changes on people and give them no choice but to endure it, we need to engage with people and have their support on major changes like this.”

Engineer Michael Murphy said Waterford Council would not be reversing any changes implemented, adding that the changes implemented have his full support, and the issues highlighted are down to driver behaviour more than anything.

What was intended originally to be a one hour meeting lasted for almost two-and-a-half hours, with people against the proposal leaving feeling as though they had a chance to air their views but ultimately that it would amount to nothing.

Pat Liston looked at the fact that Tramore is the first Waterford school to have received a School Street and said he feels as though: “We are the guinea pigs for this scheme, I think the Council have learned a lot from this and I don’t think they will make the same mistakes again, but that isn’t any comfort for residents.”

By Dymphna Nugent
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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