UPDATE: Vote delayed, see update note below.
A special council meeting is set to be convened next week to hold a vote to get Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s Active Schools Travel project back on track.
The vote has been triggered by a section 140 notice issued today by Cllr Shay Brennan (FF) and Cllr Séafra Ó Faoláin (Green Party), and seconded by Cllr Martha Fanning (Labour).
A 140 notice is part of a legal mechanism to enable councillors to compel council management to act on an issue of importance. The notice states it “…directs the Chief Executive Officer to immediately recommence work on the Active School Travel programme to provide a connected, safe and direct network of walking and cycling routes to 65 schools across the county…”.
The date of the vote is currently down as for next Friday and, under local government legislation, it must happen a week after the notice is issued.
UPDATE MONDAY SEPTEMBER 27: Cllr Shay Brennan has posted an update, he said: “S140 notified to members this evening, it will be voted on as Item 1 on the agenda of our Council meeting on Monday 11th Oct. Request for special meeting denied on a technicality.”
As reported on September 9, a previous section 140 notice was issued against the Deansgrange section of the schools project, as proposed. The previous notice was withdrawn by the councillors proposing the motion on the agreement that that there would be further consultation on the section. It took until the week afterwards for it to become apparent that this triggered a stalling of the whole project, not just the Deansgrange section.
The trial of the Deansgrange Road section of the project — like the council’s highly successful Coastal Mobility Route — uses a design that makes space for a cycle path by making the road one-way for motorists while retaining access and car parking on the wider section of the road.
This evening, speaking to IrishCycle.com, Cllr Brennan said: “The entire Active Schools Travel programme got put on hold as a result of the introduction of the further consultation for the Deansgrange segment. I don’t think it was the intention of the councillors who brought their 140 [notice] to stall the entire programme but nevertheless, that’s where we have got to.”
“The only way I can see now to get this back on track is to put a 140 to compel council management to put this to a vote and if it is accepted by a majority of councillors present, a 138 [process] will occur and the programme will resume,” said Cllr Brennan.
He said it would include the Deansgrange section of the project because the setup means it is “all or nothing”. Asked if it will be a hard vote to win he said that “all votes are hard to win”.
“No councillor wants to see the project linking 65 schools delayed, so, I think there will be good support from councillors. I’d be very hopeful that they come through on the day,” he said.
Cllr Brennan said: “In fairness to councillors who brought the initial 140 to mandate a route to retain two-way traffic through Deansgrange, that’s not actually possible, but I don’t think that they believed that their actions would have brought a postponement of the entire project.”
“I’m taking this action to try and put it back on track and to try and get this delivered in this school year. A further consultation only pushes the trial out further and we’re looking at potentially the next school year unless we take action now. The state of the world at the moment and the state of traffic congestion right around our city and the lack of this type of infrastructure means we really don’t have the luxury of waiting for additional consultation on this,” he said.
He added: “The consultation was one of the largest that DLRCC conducted and it came back positive and there’s no douth in my mind that we need to pay credence to that. This needs to go to councillors now so there’s no further delays and hopefully councillors decide to progress this.”
Cllr Ó Faoláin said: “Children shouldn’t have to wait until the next academic year to get to school safely. We are putting it to a vote next week. Tell your local Councillors what you think.”
Public consultation for the overall project found that 63% (3,987) of the 6,431 submissions supported the project, while 499 submissions or around 8% of submissions objected to the Deansgrange section.
While there is local opposition to the Deansgrange section, other locals this weekend are holding a family cycle to support the route.
CORRECTION: A previous section 140 notice was not accepted by management without a vote, as originally stated in this article, but was withdrawn by the councillors proposing the motion. The withdrawal of the section 140 motion, in itself, required the consent of a majority the councillors. IrishCycle.com is happy to make his correction and the article above has been edited to reflect this.