Are we be­ing left be­hind?

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

Cllr Chris MacManus ex­pressed his con­cern that the gov­ern­ment may be leav­ing Sligo and the North­west be­hind af­ter pub­li­ca­tion of the draft Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work.

Speak­ing dur­ing the Novem­ber meet­ing of Sligo County Coun­cil, the Sinn Féin rep­re­sen­ta­tive said that it was “down­right il­log­i­cal” that Sligo was ex­cluded from the draft plan, par­tic­u­larly given that the Na­tional Spa­tial Strat­egy recog­nised Sligo’s po­ten­tial to pro­mote de­vel­op­ment in the north west and that the draft Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work iden­ti­fied Dun­dalk as a hub in the north­east.

Cllr MacManus said: “The min­is­ter is seek­ing bal­anced re­gional de­vel­op­ment, yet ex­cludes Sligo which is best placed to serve as the main ur­ban cen­tre in the North West in terms of pop­u­la­tion, lo­ca­tion, ser­vices and po­ten­tial trans­port links.

“That the near­est ur­ban ar­eas that are larger than Sligo - Gal­way, Mullingar and Derry are all 80-90 miles away - leave a mas­sive blank gap on the NPF map.

“Sligo and the sur­round­ing coun­ties have a catch­ment pop­u­la­tion of 400000 ap­prox­i­mately: 8pc of the state’s to­tal.

“As im­por­tant, the catch­ment area equates to nearly a quar­ter of the state - a mas­sive area to be ig­nored.”

“Brexit is com­ing down the track and Sligo needs to be ready. We need in­vest­ment in our busi­ness parks and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing the N4, N15, N16 and N17 as well as an up­grad­ing of our rail ser­vice.

“If Sligo is in­cluded in the Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work, we would be well-po­si­tioned to de­velop the town, the county and the re­gion so that we are well-placed to deal with Brexit and other chal­lenges down the road.

“Sligo’s Bor­ough Coun­cil needs to be re­in­stated, with a long-term view to at­tain true city sta­tus.

“Sligo town and county can­not be left be­hind again,” Cllr MacManus con­cluded.

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