Cllr. Fitzgerald Calls for Extension to Street Enhancement Scheme Deadline

Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald has been contacted by several property owners in the hope that the Street Enhancement Scheme deadlines can be extended for a variety of sound reasons.
Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald received a reply from the office of Heather Humphreys T.D. and Minister for Rural and Community Development.

The Street Enhancement Scheme and its deadlines have been the topic of contact between several businesses and property owners in Castleisland and Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald.

Cllr. Fitzgerald said that people are seeking an extension to the scheme deadlines for reasons such as weather, unavailability of contractors in such a tight time-frame and weather for painting and outdoor decorating.

“I received a reply from the office of Heather Humphreys T.D. and Minister for Rural and Community Development during the week and, while no extension is given in the reply, there is an indication that the minister is very aware of the difficulty,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.

Fantastic Achievement by Council

“Kerry County Council sought applications from property owners by September 7th 2021. “Applications were then assessed and successful applicants were notified by September 20th 2021. Given the strong interest in the scheme this was a fantastic achievement on the part of Kerry County Council,” he said.

“Applicants must have completed the works as per letter of offer and submit invoices, evidence of payment and photographic evidence of the works no later than November 5th 2021 and it’s on that basis that people have been contacting me seeking to have the date by which works must be completed to be extended by some weeks.

Reasons Many and Varied

“The reasons cited are many and varied but here is an outline of some the difficulties: Length of time to procure materials; Contractors unable to complete works within the time-frame outlined above due to other previously made commitments and weather dependency for outdoor works such as painting, green enhancement etc.

In his letter to the Minister Humphreys, Cllr. Fitzgerald also said that the Street Enhancement Scheme is to be lauded in what it is seeking to achieve in our rural towns and villages. 

“It is a scheme which if it were rolled out in other towns and villages I would endorse and support.  “I appreciate further that it is a pilot scheme as it stands at the moment in Kerry. 

Going to be Difficulties

“Naturally there are always going to be difficulties in initiating new projects. 

“Adaptation of new schemes to problems on the ground are critical to their success in the future.  Therefore I call on your office and the Department of Community and Rural Affairs to extend the date by which works must be completed into December at least in order to give applicants a more realistic time-frame by which to supply same and bring the benefits of the scheme to their communities,” he concluded.

Reply from the Minister’s Office

Dear Councillor,

I refer to your representation in relation an extension for completion of works date for projects funded through the 2021 Streetscape Enhancement Measure.

The €7 million Streetscape Enhancement Initiative, which is a commitment in Our Rural Future, is designed to make 124 of our rural towns and villages more attractive and welcoming places for locals and visitors alike.

Property owners will be part funded to improve the facades of buildings, carry out artwork and install features such as canopies and street furniture. 

The initiative is being delivered by the Local Authorities on behalf of the Department.

The maximum level of funding that can be provided to individual properties is set at a national level, with considerable discretion provided to Local Authorities to design the scheme locally to meet their individual needs.

As the funding is being made available from savings elsewhere in the Department’s vote, it must be drawn down before year end.

The Department is working very closely with local authorities to ensure that as much flexibility as possible is being provided in the delivery of the scheme and to facilitate quick delivery on the ground.

Notwithstanding this, the Minister is aware of concerns regarding the tight time-frames set to complete the works and the impact which weather conditions may have on delivery at this time of year.

The Minister has asked her Department officials to explore what further flexibility can be provided to address these concerns so as to ensure effective delivery of this worthwhile scheme.

Yours sincerely, Damien Griffin, Private Secretary to Heather Humphreys T.D. Minister for Rural and Community Development.

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