I’ve sat on the Housing SPC for the last five years and have used my role to speak out against the current model whereby we have a very slow increase in social housing and an insecure and uneconomical dependence on the private rental model. I’ve also spoken out about the lack of a proper affordable-housing model. DCC can only do as much as the funding afforded to it. Too much is controlled centrally and this makes progress with regard to direct-builds frustratingly slow. However, despite not having an affordable-housing scheme, I have supported retaining part of the Oscar Traynor Road Land Initiative for affordable housing – perhaps by the time we actually build, the government will have delivered a scheme we can use! If elected, I will continue to ensure progress is made on sites marked for development, and that any development is planned in a sustainable community-focused way – for example, my most recent motion to the North Central Area Committee calls on DCC to lead the development of an ambitious infrastructure and connectivity plan for the Oscar Traynor Road site to ensure we do not have massive congestion on the Oscar Traynor Road and rat-running though adjacent estates such as Castletimon and Lorcan. Another issue I hope to continue to progress is increasing the number of one-bed units [in DCC's social housing]. The longest list across all housing areas is the one-bed list, generally for single people. DCC is beginning to listen at this stage to my constant advocacy, so in the next term I hope to see some real progress in this area.
I believe in the concept of public housing whereby anyone, regardless of income, can choose to rent from their local authority at a differential rent that is proportionate to their income. We are a long way from that and need the central government support to facilitate this. Another approach is the cost-rental model, which could be funded by trusts looking for low-risk, long-term investment. However, despite not having a cost-rental housing scheme or framework, I have supported retaining part of the Oscar Traynor Road Land Initiative site for cost-rental housing – perhaps by the time we actually build, the government will have delivered a scheme we can use! Ultimately, increasing housing supply should help reduce rents as demand will reduce.
Again, the central government needs to step up to the mark and better regulate the private rental sector. Research by Dublin Region Homeless Executive shows that most of those who enter homelessness do so because they have lost a private rental tenancy. As a councillor I will continue to advocate that that those who attend our services receive the most appropriate support, particularly in the area of securing another home.
Any time I see a house/site that I think might be derelict or vacant I report it to DCC and encourage others to do the same. This allows DCC to follow up and apply the various sanctions (which should be increased in severity) that are in place or encourage the use of the Repair and Lease Scheme. I proposed that DCC set targets for compulsorily purchasing vacant houses, but this proposal was rejected due to constitutional concerns!
I strong believe in proactive public consultation on local development and infrastructure. At present we are in the process of deciding on new bus routes, core bus corridors and a possible Metro line. As a local councillor I have disseminated pertinent and relevant information on these proposals and held local public meetings to explain them and to hear local concerns. I view it as part of my role to make observations to these public consultations that not only reflect their concerns but that also suggest possible alternatives.
I have supported the Sutton-to-Sandycove cycle route and took an active part in the discussion around the city-centre-to-Clontarf route. I am very conscious that any new development needs to support good permeability for cyclists and pedestrians.
DCC has just completed a Climate Change Action Plan consultation. If re-elected I will actively engage with realising an ambitious, sustainable plan for our city. One small project that I would like to progress is the idea of some sort of acknowledgement – perhaps a plaque and official list – of all cafés/restaurants that use compostiable coffee cups, do not use straws or any other single-use plastics and offer a price reduction for using "keep cups" for take-away beverages. I think this would both provide those of us who want to make environmentally friendly consumer food choices a list of appropriate places to eat/drink and encourage other establishments to get more environmentally friendly.
We need more litter wardens and dog wardens – this is a budgetary choice that I will advocate for. I supported the name-and-shame photos of illegal dumpers that DCC used a couple of years ago – this approach needs to be revisited. Fines need to be increased as a deterrent, but this will only work if there is an efficient process in place to catch offenders. People’s attitudes need to change and I do not buy into the argument that because of the bin charges people cannot afford to dispose of their waste. There is no excuse for not picking up your dog’s poo!
There is a good consciousness among all councillors about the need for parks and green spaces. Indeed we voted to keep green spaces in our Development Plan that could have been used for building, which caused some frustration at the executive level [in the council]. At local level, I would be imaginative about small local spaces and work with locals to secure funding to enhance their appearance, particularly through the use of our discretionary fund.
DCC councillors have to approve the disposal/sale of any DCC-owned property, including public spaces. This simple action can prevent them from being privatised. At local level, I would be imaginative about small local spaces and work with locals to secure funding to enhance their appearance, particularly through the use of our discretionary fund.