Council Briefs: Hanlon’s Corner Traffic Changes, Barrow Street Revamp, Community Grants, and More

Works at Hanlon’s Corner

Dublin City Council is set to launch a public consultation in the coming weeks on plans for a new cycle lane on the North Circular Road and works to improve safety at Hanlon’s Corner.

Councillors on the Central Area Committee said last Tuesday that Hanlon’s Corner on the boundary between Stoneybatter and Cabra is dangerous and they hoped that the proposed changes will make it safer.

“I’m sure those who live in the area all their life … will say how dangerous that crossing is,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan.

Last December, councillors saw the first version of plans.

They include protected cycle lanes on parts of North Circular Road. The works will be funded by the National Transport Authority and include resurfacing the junction and removing the central pedestrian island in Prussia Street, says a report issued in December.

The council plans to remove the left-turn slip lane on the North Circular Road onto the Old Cabra Road, says a report. Cars will still be permitted to turn left there.

Map from council presentation.

Another reportissued last week adapted plans due to feedback from councillors, who asked the engineers to consider keeping the pedestrian island on Prussia Street. They also asked engineers to change the pedestrian lights to allow people more time to get across the road.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Eimer McCormack said that the pedestrian crossing times should take into account people with disabilities and older people.

“We will definitely increase times for pedestrians,” said Chris Adamson, assistant executive engineer with Dublin City Council.

The latest report says the council is also considering removing the railings on the footpath.

Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said the railings, themselves a safety feature, could be dangerous. “My understanding is that those guard rails have been demonstrated, themselves, not to be safe.”

There have been horrible incidents where people have been crushed against guard rails, she said.

Councillors wondered what would replace them though. “I need to be sure that if we are removing them, we are going to have something else that will act as a boundary and a safety mechanism for people,” said Sinn Féin’s Boylan.

She would like to see an example of somewhere where removing the railings has worked, she said.

Adamson said that a road-safety audit will be carried out before deciding whether to remove the railings. If they are removed they might be replaced with something else, he said.

Councillors asked that the public consultation on the proposed changes be extended to include a wider area, and to include a leaflet drop and a public meeting as well as the online forum.

They also asked that the time period of the consultation be extended from three weeks to six weeks.

“I think a six-week consultation would be very useful,” said Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam, who chairs the committee.

Barrow Street Revamp Moves Along

Councillors got an update on the proposed revamp of Barrow Street in the Docklands, at a meeting of their South East Area Committee on Monday, 20 June.

“Essentially, what it is is that we are enhancing the public realm,” said Derek Dixon, a council engineer, as he gave councillors a reminder of what is on the cards.

The scheme includes planting, drainage, adding footpath space, and regulating the speed of the traffic on the street by reducing the carriageway width to 3 metres in each direction, he said.

The only change to the scheme since the last update, and subsequent public consultation, has been to take out a couple of electric-car parking bays outside two houses, he said.

They’re looking at where to put those back in. “But they will not be outside of anybody’s house,” he said.

Councillors’ questions mostly sought, as in an earlier session, to interrogate what role Google has and will play on the street. The tech giant, which has its European HQ on the street, has agreed to partially fund the upgrades.

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn asked for confirmation that Google would have no special authority down there once the works were done. “And that Google don’t turn the area into a campus.”

Labour Councillor Mary Freehill said she would have similar concerns about making sure city council ownership of land wouldn’t diminish in any way.

She didn’t know quite what the connection with Google was, she said. “All I know myself is that when I was hacked a few years ago and I went into Google and they just wouldn’t deal with me, I couldn’t believe it. And the only way I was able to get it sorted it out was through [council manager] Brendan Kenny. And I was completely cut out of my work.”

Dixon said that Google would have no control over the public realm whatsoever. “The public realm is the public realm.”

Planning permission for the scheme is being dealt with through what’s known as the Part VIII process, whereby the council grants itself permission for a public project.

So it’ll fall to councillors at a future meeting of the full council to take a final vote on whether to press ahead or not.

Opening of Community Grants Scheme

Dublin City Council plans to open its annual Community Grants Scheme today, Wednesday 22 June, said Paul O’Halloran, a council administrative officer.

For the first time, the council will accept applications online for the grants, O’Halloran told councillors on the North Central Area Committee on Monday 20 June.

“We expect there to be a significant uptake compared to last year,” he said.

Each year the council gives the once-off grants to “a range of resident, community, environmental and festival groups throughout the city with a particular emphasis on community development, social inclusion and integration”, according to O’Halloran’s report to the committee. The maximum grant is €1,500.

The 2022 citywide budget for the grants scheme is €300,000, divided into pots of €60,000 for each of the council’s five administrative areas.

In 2019, the North Central Area got €55,000 in community grants, O’Halloran said. Last year, that was down to just €29,000 he said.

Several councillors raised concerns about whether people who aren’t comfortable applying online would still be able to apply this year. O’Halloran said they would.

Childcare-Sector Reform

After a presentation on the government’s plans to reform the childcare sector, some local councillors on the North Central Area Committee said they were disappointed that the reforms wouldn’t be more fundamental.

“I think what you are outlining is a sticking plaster approach to a system that needs complete reform,” said Social Democrats Councillor Catherine Stocker. The approach of providing subsidies “is one that just isn’t working”, she said.

Carol Dillon, manager of the Dublin City Childcare Committee, the Department of Children’s “local agent” in the city, had given a presentation split into two parts at Monday’s meeting of the committee.

First was an overview of services and vision for reform, the other a look at the planned new funding model.

“In terms of transforming the sector, there are huge developments on the way,” she said.

The goals include tackling the shortage of places, especially for children under three years of age, and improving affordability for parents, and sustainability for staff and providers, she said.

The vision is to move into “state partnership” with services such as creches, a much closer relationship, she said. But there is no specific plan for public provision of childcare, she said.

So far, the plan is still for a system in which the state provides funding to operators, who provide the services.

“I think it’s a pity that […] all of these figures and everything that you’ve come across in your report is all targeted at the private sector,” said Social Democrats Councillor Patricia Roe.

“I think several speakers have said how much they would like to see […] public provision of childcare,” she said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Racheal Batten said that there has been a 40 percent increase in the last five years in relation to demand for childcare places for children under three years of age, although she did not say where that figure came from.

“Supply and affordability are really the keys and in relation to all the funding I don’t see specific targets,” she said. “Is that just not there or are there actually specific targets?”

Dillon said that “There are not specific targets in the document I just went through. It’s more the principle and the standards. It’s like the blueprint.”

Authors:

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

Lois Kapila: Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general assignment reporter. She covers housing and land, too. Want to share a comment or a tip? You can reach her at [email protected]

Sam Tranum: Sam Tranum is co-founder of Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at [email protected]

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