Dublin West Green Party representative, Roderic O’Gorman has called on Fingal County Council to introduce policies on safe routes to school and new schools. He was speaking as the Dublin West Green Party made its submission on the Draft County Development Plan.
“The Draft Fingal County Development Plan 2011-17 sets out the goals that Fingal County Council will be seeking to achieve over the next 6 years. I believe that as part of this, it is vital that the Council adopts a Safe Routes to School scheme and a New Schools Strategy”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
“In my initial submission on the Development Plan, I suggested that Fingal County Council commit to initiating a Safe-Routes to School scheme across the county. My proposal did not make it into the Draft Plan so I am again calling for this measure to be adopted”.
“Such a Safe Routes to School strategy would involve bringing together parents, teachers, the Gardai and Council officials to plan a safe route to school strategy for each school. This would involve improving pedestrian crossings, cycle lanes and footpaths in the vicinity of schools as well as reducing speed limits and introducing a ban on heavy goods vehicles around school districts. A further element would be to ensure the provision of bike sheds in schools so students have a safe place to park their bicycles”.
“It is important to note that the Renewed Programme for Government commits to the rolling out of a ‘Safe Routes to School’ strategy across the whole country by 2012. As such, Fingal should act now to be in the position to benefit from central funding to facilitate the roll out of the project”.
“Another key area where the current Draft Plan does not go far enough is in relation to new schools. Fingal has suffered severely from the failure to adequately zone land for schools at primary and secondary level over the last 10 years. The Strategic Overview of the Draft Plan notes the very high percentage of young children in the county. This will have a significant impact on the need for new and larger schools over the period of the Draft Plan”.
“I have argued that the provisions within the Urban Fingal Chapter on providing new schools are too vague and run the risk of the same delays in obtaining sites for schools that have been experienced in the last five years. I am proposing that a New Schools Strategy needs to be devised, which will allow for enhanced communications between the Council, the Forward Planning Section of the Department of the Environment, patron bodies and local communities. This New Schools Strategy should be given specific recognition in the Development Plan”.
“The first priority of the New Schools Strategy would be to identify if there is existing and planned capacity for the number of classrooms that the Forward Planning Section of the Department estimate will be needed across Fingal. In areas where there is a shortfall, measures must be taken immediately to remedy this situation”.
“As part of the New Schools Strategy, there needs to be consistency as to the zoning that is given to a site that is intended to be used as a school. All such sites should be zoned as Objective CI – ‘Community Infrastructure”.
“These two measures are part of a number that I and the Dublin West Green Party included in our submission on the Draft Development Plan. They come as a result of going door to door and discussing these issues with residents of Dublin 15, a public meeting that we held and our interaction with planners and relevant community groups. While I will not be in a position to vote on the Development Plan, I would strongly urge local councillors to adopt these common sense measures”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.