Heated debate over the use of new RAPID funds
THE use of a new grant under the RAPID scheme to fund CCTV led a heated debate over areas of ‘deprivation’,
Councillors at the Dundalk Municipal District committee heard how funds totalling €64,500 were being offered to County Louth under the RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development) scheme.
The funds were to be divided equally between Dundalk and Drogheda, where a number of RAPID areas had previously been identified, and were, according to a notice from the department, intended to provide CCTV.
In Dundalk, three areas had been identified - Cox’s Demesne, Muirhevnamor, and Dulargy.
Councillors heard that officials had only received notification of the funding offer the previous day. It had been put before Drogheda Municipal committee that same evening, where members had approved it.
But Cllr. Tomas Sharkey outlined his opposition to funding being used for CCTV.
‘Let’s just look at how putting cameras up on telephone poles is going to help kids get back to school, or people access employment and services.’
He criticised the plans for CCTV in these areas, adding ‘It fails to address the causes of deprivation and social disengagement.’
He also hit out at members being asked to approve the scheme at the meeting, without any opportunity to discuss what the funds could be used for.
Cllr. Marianne Butler said funds were ‘absolutely pittance’ compared to what was needed to address anti social behaviour.
Cllr. Sharkey added that the RAPID scheme had been set up to with the aim of benefitting these designated areas. He described CCTV as a ‘very crude way’ of addressing any of the issues, or supporting communities within these areas.
Director of Services, Frank Pentony explained that this was the first funding in more than ten years which had been made available under the RAPID scheme.
‘We don’t have a RAPID co-ordinator anymore, and we haven’t had funding from central government under this scheme the last ten years.’
Chairman, Cllr. John McGahon point- ed out that the CCTV was intended as prevention measure.
He welcomed suggestions that members devise a plan for future funding, if monies were made available again next year.
Cllr. Maria Doyle added that she had seen numerous appeals by councillors over the last few years for CCTV to be used to tackle a range of issues, including illegal dumping.
Members heard that a decision had to be made soon on the offer of funds, as all of the money could go to Drogheda, who had already accepted the grant.
Cllr. Marianne Butler proposed that the funding be accepted, and was seconded by Cllr.Conor Keelan.
But Cllr. Sharkey put forward a counter proposal asking for members to have the opportunity to meet again to discuss the matter.
A roll call was taken, and the members voted to hold a separate meeting tommorrow ( Wednesday) to debate how the funds could be spent.
Mr. Pentony advised the money was designated for capital funding projects only, and added there were time constraints, with November 24th being the cut off point for any response. He advised members to email officials over the coming days with their suggestions.
Cllr Tomas Sharkey.
Cllr John McGahon.