At the moment it seems to me that in many local authorities, the main focus for the supply of social housing is via Part V or via housing associations, with little contribution from local authorities themselves. I think the new city council has to demand far more of the officials in terms of the council themselves providing houses, while at the same time maintaining supply under the other two heads. It is my clear understanding that money is available to the councils for this purpose and that they are simply not spending it as intended.
Further, I am mystified at the huge numbers of vacant houses being reported in the census. In parts of the area I am contesting, vacancy rates approached 14 percent in 2016. I think the council has to understand the reasons for this and to take steps to address any blockages in re-occupying these houses. The council itself also seems to allow units it controls remain unoccupied for excessive periods and councillors need to hold them to account for this.
If serious steps were taken on the above two issues, I think supply could be increased significantly over the term of the next council.
The recent announcement that approximately 900 social and affordable homes will be built on the Irish Glass Bottle Site in Ringsend – as An Bord Pleanála approved the Poolbeg West Strategic Development Zone scheme – is very welcome. This represents over 25 percent of the total homes, far beyond the 10 percent minimum. This deal was reached between Dublin City Council and the landowner, with the support of the Department of Housing.
See my answer to question 1. In addition, the council needs to continually evaluate its processes for matching those in danger of living on the streets to available and suitable hostel accommodation.
I would hope that the Vacant Site Levy would play a key role in this. The council could be more pro-active in assessing any obstacles it can remove to the development of bigger sites.
I think a lot of the measures proposed by BusConnects will help to achieve this. Clearly some are controversial and the National Transport Authority needs to listen to legitimate concerns.
As I hope to represent an inner-city district, it is a key priority for me that all residents have a safe and proper route to cycle to all destinations within the canals. It is simply not acceptable that the surfaces of cycle lanes are left unrepaired or that we continue to tolerate dangerous junctions with no measures to protect cyclists.
The council needs to look at all if the ways it contributes to climate change, such as use of non-recyclable materials, badly insulated council buildings and houses and all of its transport requirements. I would hope that the new council would insist on an audit in all these areas, identifying a programme of action and monitoring that this is achieving meaningful reductions year by year in destructive activity. Of course everyone has a role to play, but my priority is for the council itself to lead by example.
We need to educate citizens that ultimately each and every one of them has to take personal responsibility for not dropping litter, and for clearing up their dog's poo. More concerted enforcement, likely involving camera surveillance, is needed for illegal dumping. We should have dog wardens focus on known trouble spots.
There is probably relatively little scope to increase the amount of green space, particularly within the canals. The emphasis has to be on enhancing what we have. We should try and have the highest quality linear green spaces along all our major waterways. We should resist the widespread rezoning of institutional land within the city, although this raises complex legal issues.