‘We are on a slippery slope’, council hears

Local politicians are to hold fresh talks over the coming weeks in a bid to safeguard the long term prospects of Longford town and county.

Local politicians are to hold fresh talks over the coming weeks in a bid to safeguard the long term prospects of Longford town and county.

The suggestion for a joint meeting of both local authorities was put forward by Cllr Paul Connell at last week’s meeting of Longford Town Council.

Addressing members, Cllr Connell warned that Longford faced an uncertain economic future unless swift and decisive action is taken.

“Our town is going down and I think we have to do something about it,” he said dispondently. “We (councillors) are elected by the people, and the executive in both the town and county council have a big responsibility to the county as well as the county town.”

Cllr Connell pointed to a recent meeting he had with a high profile businessman and said any hopes he had of attracting that investor to set up in Longford were effectively dashed by its apparent lack of infrastructure. Cllr Connell went on to claim the town has been on a “slippery slope” for the past few years.

Other represenatitives to row in behind Cllr Connell’s urgings were Cllrs Gerry Warnock and Tony Flaherty.

Referring to an earlier meeting, in which he queried why public monies were being spent on local authority planning duties when the Town Council has no dedicated officer, Cllr Flaherty said those individuals needed to be asked for their own views on how best to shape Longford’s future.

“Here is one prime example of a service that we are simply not getting, €68,000,” he claimed. “I would ask these forward planners what are their plans for the town and county for the forseeable future. It’s grand us coming in sitting and talking, but we are the ones walking down the street seven days a week and socialising in the town. Is it as close to their heart as it is to ours? There is no point having a meeting with the county council unless these people are there to answer these type of questions.”

Cllr Mae Sexton said despite agreeing with calls for a joint meeting, forcing inward investment was simply not feasible.

Cllr Michael Connellan opted to direct his frustration at State bodies such as the IDA but stopped short of supporting assertions that the town was in decline.

“I don’t think we are slipping away. I think it is important we emphasise the positivity that there is about the town. I do accept some of things that were said but I think it is important we put out a positive attitude,” he said.

Further debate on the possibility of a joing meeting of both local authorities was likely to be examined further at today’s (Wednesday) county council meeting.

Meanwhile, Town Mayor Cllr Peggy Nolan requested for written letters to be sent to three of Longford’s county associations abroad in Dublin, London and New York to coincide with The Gathering tourism initiative.