Kildare County Council was starkly criticised for ignoring the needs of young people in Newbridge at a meeting of Newbridge Community Development and local election candidates on Wednesday night in Ryston Sports and Social Club.
The meeting was held to update local election candidates on the long standing issue of the need for a site for a new multi-purpose youth facility and skateboard park for Newbridge.
The meeting heard from Micheal Mullally of NCD, Conor Mahony of YAN, Youth Action Newbridge and Tom Deegan of KYS, Kildare Youth Services.
“NCD became aware in 2007 of the extraordinary amount of development lead growth in Newbridge,” said Micheal Mullally. “Young people in particular had no role in this. 37 percent of the population of Newbridge are under 24 years old. KCC and the VEC were both invited to this meeting tonight and they didn’t even acknowledge the invite. This has gone beyond a joke and we have to get more aggressive with Kildare County Council.”
The meeting heard that NCD is in danger of losing a €100,000 state-of-the-art building, which was donated by Pfizer and in storage on NAMA owned land. “It is a case of use it or lose it,” he added. “NAMA now own the site and on a weekly basis are contacting us to get rid of the €100,000 prefab, which is lying there and in the meantime Kildare County Council have not given us a site.”
A possible site for the facility and skateboard park at the Machinery Yard was rejected on December 23 last when councillors voted against rezoning the land from commercial to amenity use. Instead the council voted in favour of a 1300 ton salt barn to go into the Machinery Yard,
At the time KCC offered a list of 12 sites including one on lands owned by the former VEC now KWETB at St Conleth’s Community College on Station Road. The council promised a meeting to discuss this proposal however no such meeting has materialised.
Cllr Fiona O’Loughlin, who was described as ‘being in the trenches’ with NCD and YAN on the issue, said that it was a very poor indictment of Kildare County Council.
“There has been no engagement with KCC or the VEC in the past four months,” she said. Cllr Damian Molyneaux questioned whether the proposed site on Station Road was a ‘genuine offer from Kildare County Council, while Fine Gael election candidate Fiona McLoughlin Healy wondered if it was a ‘red herring’?. Cllr Paddy Kennedy, who was not at the meeting but is on the Board of the KWETB, agreed that the issue was frustrating for all concerned but added that he did not think the proposed site on Station Road was suitable.
A Council spokesperson said that the delay was due to a planning issue at the site with Newbridge Athletic Club, however that has since been solved and the council is drawing up the competing demands for the remaining space to establish how best these can be accommodated in the space offered by KWETB.