My Priorities for the new Newbridge District

I’ve been meeting people across the district and discussing the issues. A common feeling that I’ve picked up on is that Newbridge is seeing too many challenges and not enough benefits in being the largest town in Kildare. The next council must take steps to redress this.

ROADS & TRANSPORT

In roads and transport, the council MUST now make a new bridge for Newbridge it’s top roads infrastructure priority and commit to the traffic management plan for the town by including these as objectives in the upcoming Newbridge Local Area Plan.

I will advocate for a special fund to be established – with national support – to focus on routes which have seen increased traffic in recent years as they’ve become rat-runs due to the extensive roadworks throughout the county. This fund should have three elements: 1) Road repair, 2) safety enhancement 3) noise abatement through tree planting.

CHILDCARE

Promote the Community Childcare model. Community Childcare is like the credit union of creches. It’s run by a voluntary board on a not-for-profit basis and exists to support the local community. But Community Childcare models make up less than 10% of all childcare facilities in Ireland. Kildare CoCo can change this by supporting – through policy and finance – the development of these facilities.

The council also needs to lobby for LEADER funding to be made available to childcare facilities. In recent years childcare projects have been excluded from such funding.

In many large shopping centers, you’ll find drop-off childminding facilities which allow parents to get their shopping done. I’d like to see a similar project piloted in Newbridge that would provide childcare services in the town centre run by the council. If successful, we could bring more footfall back to main street but also allow parents without formal childcare arrangements to get an hour here and there to get their shopping done, take a course/class or attend an appointment or job interview.

ENVIRONMENT – TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE

Bord Na Mona has committed to closing all of its 62 active bogs by 2025. It’s vital that County Kildare is a part of this change. We have a wealth of energy sector knowledge in Bord na Mona and I’d like to see Kildare CoCo tap into that and develop Newbridge as an innovative hub for start-up businesses focused on the next generation of energy production.

Providing better cycling and pedestrian facilities is directly within the council’s responsibility and an area that needs serious attention throughout our district. By building safe, designated paths we can help encourage some students and shoppers to leave the car at home, freeing up traffic and reducing our carbon footprint.

We need to resource Tidy Towns groups better and reward them for taking on impactful projects such as pollinator programs, bee-keeping, anti-litter and carbon off-setting initiatives.

Make on-street bins recycling friendly with segregated waste.

CREATING JOBS AND SUPPORTING BUSINESS

In Kildare 55% of our rates are paid by the top 2% of companies. A rates reduction actually benefits them far more than the small retailer and reduces the funding available to other community projects. The answer has to be a targeted rates relief and reimbursement project. A targeted program would support local business owners without depleting a major funding source for the county.

For the last three years I have served as Chair of Co. Kildare Community Networks (CKCN). CKCN is overseeing the development of a €3.5m Digital Hub in Naas. This will provide space for 120 jobs in the tech sector with a focus on new innovative companies and will also cater for businesses coming into Ireland looking for a start-up space. It is my goal to see a series of Innovation Clusters rolled out around the county with different industries supported in different locations. As mentioned above, Newbridge is well placed to support businesses in the energy sector while Kildare Town is ideally located for a development focusing on equine enterprises. This project offers huge potential for jobs in County Kildare.

PLAYGROUNDS

Over the last five years I’ve advocated for local property tax to be put towards tangible projects that can be enjoyed in the local community. Through this initiative the council have funded brand new playgrounds in Caragh, Sallins and Kill. With one of the youngest populations in the country it’s important that Kildare County Council focuses on the needs of young families and provides these facilities. Developing playgrounds in the town centre is also a great way to drive regular footfall to the main street.

I want to make sure that Kildare County Council is not only doing what it should but is delivering as much as it possibly can for the county.

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Parents need to see more action on Childcare

Rob Power AF19

Kildare County Councillor and candidate for the 2019 local elections in Newbridge District, Rob Power speaks at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis on Childcare.

On Saturday last, (23rd Feb) I had the pleasure of addressing the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis on the issue of childcare. If I’m honest, it’s not a topic I would have known a lot about when I first ran for election five years ago, but with two-under-three in my house, it’s something I find myself talking to other parents about a lot more.

Fine Gael seem to be so focused on announcements and plans that there really is very little happening in tackling the real issues facing parents.

In the childcare sector, ever-increasing costs are forcing parents to choose between a career and parenting and that’s just wrong. In my own daughters creche, I know that insurance costs will go up FIVE TIMES higher this year than 2018. That cost is being passed on to parents directly.

I’ve also worked with community childcare providers who, amazingly, only make up less than 10% of all childcare facilities. Continue reading

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Rob Power Selected to Run in Newbridge District in 2019 Locals

On Thursday 13th December, Fianna Fail members gathered in the Keadeen Hotel to choose their candidates for the Newbridge district in next May’s local elections. Councillor Robert Power and Noel Heavey were selected.

By all accounts it was a smooth transfer of “Power” as sitting Councillor for Newbridge and Mayor of Kildare, Sean Power did not contest the convention having previously announced that he would stand down at the end of this term. His son, Robert, will now take up the mantle in the Newbridge area, half of which has been moved from the Naas district where he has been a Councillor since 2014.

The new district takes in Caragh, Ladytown, Kilcullen, Brannockstown and Twomilehouse formerly of the Naas local electoral area. It also includes Clongorey, Athgarvan and of course the town of Newbridge itself.120_0681.jpg

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Power: Government have questions to answer on reducing Kildare housing targets

This morning the Taoiseach doubled down on comments Eoghan Murphy made yesterday and attempted to deflect blame to County Councils saying that they are not doing enough to tackle the housing crisis.

The reality of the situation is that Minister Murphy’s department published guidelines in June which will effectively mean dezoning swathes of residential land in Kildare and the greater Dublin area. This was done without consultation on the impact at a local level.

It will mean that 6,000 houses fewer will be built in the next five years in Kildare alone.

The guidelines will also mean reductions in Meath, Wicklow and other counties currently bearing the brunt of the housing crisis. The guidelines have also instructed councils to stop working on their County Development plans. Six weeks ago Kildare County Council passed my motion agreeing to ask the Minister to explain how this plan would impact on our county. It’s extremely frustrating to be sitting hear six weeks later listening to an Taoiseach and a Minister criticise local government when he is yet to address the real concerns we’ve put to him.

On Friday 3rd August I joined Shane Beatty in studio to discuss the details of this plan and how it will impact on County Kildare. (Interview begins at 4 minutes in).

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“Larceny of Racehorse”

This week, 35 years ago, just before midnight on February 9th the Dáil sat to hear a special Private Notice Question from Deputy Paddy Power on the issue of “Larceny of Racehorse”.

The one and only Shergar had been stolen from his box in Ballymany Stud. Raising the issue with Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, my grandfather was met with cynical jeers from TDs across the aisle to which he responded:

The loud laughter bespeaks the vacant minds on the opposite benches. This assures me that there is a great lack of knowledge of the seriousness of this case on their part…I am not in a position to make the Deputies opposite take the matter seriously, but I hope that they will, because I do.

The full debate from the Dáil records is chronicled below… Continue reading

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Digital Hub Announced for Naas

Today I’m delighted to see the approval of Enterprise Ireland funding for a digital hub in Naas. The Mid East Regional Innovation Think Space (MERITS) is a new build project that will cluster Irish and international new technology companies in a collaborative space in Naas town centre.

I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve secured the funding for this project. Establishing a Digital Hub in the town not only secures short and long-term employment Continue reading

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Community Mapping App for Naas

There was a great turnout at the Naas Wild Food Festival on Saturday where I had the pleasure of launching the “Naas Engagers” App. This is an innovative new community mapping project and will provide an opportunity for the people of Naas to put forward and share ideas for the revitalisation & regeneration of Naas. A key part of this pilot project is a mobile phone App that has been developed by Space Engagers, supported by the Social Innovation Fund Ireland in association with Google.

The Naas URBACT Local Group, is leading this project as part of an  European Union initiative, called “ The City Centre Doctor Project”, the aim of which is to develop a Naas Town Team and to plan for the regeneration of Naas .

Naas Engagers will enable local people to share stories and information about places in the town and to make suggestions as to how some of them could be reused or improved. The aim is to encourage people to think about their town and how they would like it to develop.

I’m really proud that Naas is one of only 4 towns in Ireland to trial this digital solution to help rejuvenate town centres.

Search the App Store for “Space Engagers” and get tagging your ideas for Naas!

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Kerdiffstown: From Environmental Nightmare to Public Park

Last week was another step forward in cleaning up the environment in Naas. Three pictures below from 2011, 2017 and the last is a plan for 2023.


Six years ago noxious gases filled the air in Naas, Johnstown and surrounding areas.

The fire at Kerdiffstown dump was a very serious threat to the quality of the environment for residents nearby.

Since then, lots of work has gone into securing the site and making plans to ensure this dangerous situation is never repeated.

This week I was proud to oversee the signing of the Compulsory Purchase Order and planning files to change this 74 acre landfill into a public park with all purpose pitches, walking routes, planting and a playground.
Still a long way to go but huge credit due to the team in KCC who have taken the project to where it is today.

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My Priorities As Mayor of Naas Municipal District

The Naas district covers an area from the Dublin border in Kilteel, south to Kilcullen and Ballymore taking in Naas and the surrounding villages and townlands. The CSO tells us it has a population of around 50,000 of which the average person is only two years older than they were at the last census five years ago! We are the only district in Kildare that has a net inflow of commuters each day. We are a district of 18,000 houses but as I write this, only 25 for rent. There are certainly both challenges and opportunities facing our district and I’m honoured to have been elected Mayor for the year ahead.

With the short time available to me in my role as Mayor I’ve tried to bring structure to my priorities. I’ve distilled my focus into three areas under which Continue reading

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Publication of Comments on Sallins Plan

In issuing a draft directive, the Minister states that he believes that Councillors have  ignored, or have not taken sufficient account of submissions or observations made by the Minister to the planning authority. In my statement last month at the council meeting I made it clear why we were making the decision against the Chief Executives advice and dealt comprehensively with the idea that we were ignoring the Minister’s advice.

Below are the comments made by me at the special meeting of the Naas Municipal District in considering the Sallins local area plan.

Continue reading

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