— New path will make it safer to walk and cycle to school.
— Former Labour minister wants to use Labour Party lawyers to support opposition to walking and cycling link.
Opposition to a new walking and cycling connection is both mean spirited and detrimental to a more active community, the Maynooth Cycling Campaign has said.
Unlocking permeability for walking and cycling is seen by planning and active travel experts as key to getting more children and adults active and healthier, and reducing car use. But, when greater permeability for active travel is planned, it is often opposed by some residents who are then backed by councillors.
The Maynooth Cycling Campaign group released a statement after the Carton Avenue Preservation Society objected to a short bridge and pathway for walking and cycling linking Carton Avenue to a new housing development, Limetree Hall.
Carton Avenue is a link between the Carton Estate and Main Street in Maynooth.
Maynooth Cycling Campaign said: “In particular, a spokesperson [for Carton Avenue Preservation Society] has been reported as stating that no-one would want a cycle link. Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly support the provision of cycle facilities between the residential estates and Main Street as it would be a safe route for children attending the nearby school. The alternative route on the Dublin Road has no cycle facilities and would involve a road crossing. Judging from the above photograph, the pupils at Presentation Girls School would appear to agree with our view,” the campaign said in a statement on its website.
The campaign said: “The Carton Avenue Preservation Society also argue that there has been no consultation on the proposal. The proposed walking/cycling link was shown in the Maynooth Local Area Plan 2013–2019 which went to public consultation and was subsequently approved by county councillors.”
“The work is not of a scale which warrants a separate public consultation so Kildare County County got it right this time. Opposition to improved walking and cycling is both mean spirited and detrimental to a more active community,” the group added.
Kildare Council Council has said the link into the Avenue was covered by the planning permission and the link was part of the local area plan.
Councillors however claimed the path is an “unauthorised development” and have threaten to support legal action against the council.
Local newspaper the Leinster Leader reported that independent Cllr Teresa Murray said there was “a sense of shock and the whole community was outraged” and, the paper said, that she was concerned that “bikes” would be using it.
Sinn Féin Cllr Reada Cronin said she was “horrified” by the walking and cycling link. The Leinster Leader quoted Cllr Cronin as stating: “The idea of people coming from McDonalds and Tesco with trolleys of beer and giving parties (at the Avenue) has frightened the life out of them We will fight this on the Avenue as well as in the courts. I will man the barricades. This won’t happen.”
Emmet Stagg, a former Labour junior minister and current election candidate for the area, said in a statement published on his party’s website that he wants the party’s lawyers to look at the issue.
Stagg claimed that what’s the council refers to as normal procedure to link new estates to public roads and paths within a development’s planning permission was not enough and that the link between the new estate and historic path would need its own planning permission.
The statement said: “Mr. Stagg stated that the Fact of the matter is that planning permission was only granted for the development of a pedestrian/cycle path within the development site of Limetree Hall. Nowhere was planning permission granted for the development of a pedestrian/cycle path within the boundary of Carton Avenue. Secondly the Maynooth Local Area Plan 2013-2019, in particular Maps 1 and 1 (a), only show a pedestrian/cycle path as an objective within the development site of Limetree Hall. Nowhere on the Maps is there an objective showing a pedestrian/cycle path linking the one in Limetree Hall with the Main footpath through Carton Avenue.”
The Council Officials are digging in their heels on this, stated Mr. Stagg, and given their intransigence and failure to recognise the democratic will of the people of Maynooth and their elected Councillors, leaves us with only one option at the moment which is to look into pursuing the matter legally.”
“Mr. Stagg concluded by stating that he was contacting Labour Lawyers on this important matter seeking their assistance and advice with a view to seeing what legal options might be available to get Carton Avenue re-instated,” the statement
IMAGE: Maynooth Cycling Campaign