People in tears over plans for BusConnects project, claims Cork city councillor

Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond said the NTA consultation process has been “one-dimensional” and “undemocratic”, with an “absolute absence of quality and factual information”
People in tears over plans for BusConnects project, claims Cork city councillor

The NTA has said it is “fully committed to working with all interested parties” in the development of sustainable transport corridors for the BusConnects network, with the aim of keeping everyone “fully in the picture at all times”.

CITY councillors have criticised the National Transport Authority (NTA) over how it is engaging with local communities about proposed BusConnects routes, which they said has led to hysteria, anger, and tears among concerned residents.

At a council meeting on Monday, Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond said the NTA consultation process has been “one-dimensional” and “undemocratic”, with an “absolute absence of quality and factual information”.

However, others including Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said they have found the NTA to be open to engaging with and assuring communities about proposed plans, particularly in meetings with smaller groups.

The NTA has said it is “fully committed to working with all interested parties” in the development of sustainable transport corridors for the BusConnects network, with the aim of keeping everyone “fully in the picture at all times”.

'PEOPLE ARE FEARFUL'

Speaking at a council meeting on Monday, councillor Mary Rose Desmond criticised the NTA for not engaging with the public at community forums, and being unable to answer specific questions raised about the plans.

“People are fearful. I have them coming to me in tears, worried about the impact on them and their homes, but more so the absolute absence of quality and factual information as to how they’re going to be impacted.

“I just don’t think, in any way shape or form, that the way that this has been approached is satisfactory,” she said.

Councillor Derry Canty said that public consultation meetings with the NTA are providing “no answers” to people, and went so far as to call for the entire BusConnects project to be “withdrawn straight away, because its only causing controversy across the whole city”.

However, other councillors such as Oliver Moran said that the NTA have been “fantastic” to engage with, and are “ready to amend” any issues raised. He said there is a need to “de-escalate” the heat and fear that’s being caused around the project, which is only at the beginning of a two-year consultation phase.

“This is the first of three rounds of consultations over the next two years. This is the first feedback they have had, and members here should not be winding people up… we need to de-escalate this in order that we can have a right conversation about this,” he said. 

Proposing a motion that Cork City Council call on the NTA to hold more public meetings regarding the proposed BusConnects plans and allow a greater number of residents representatives to attend, councillor John Maher said “anger and frustration” surrounding proposals needs to be “toned down”.

'HYSTERIA AND NONSENSE'

He said that there is a lack of communication with people from the NTA regarding the project, which is causing concerns that are being exacerbated by some elected representatives.

He said that in the past week, 50% of what he has heard from constituents about BusConnects is “hysteria and nonsense”.

“We need to get into communities. We need to identify the problems, and we need to thrash them out,” he said.

The NTA has said it is “fully committed to working with all interested parties” in the consultation process, to “create two-way communications with local communities groups allowing information and feedback to be relayed clearly, quickly and accurately”.

Five community forums for the Sustainable Transport Corridors of BusConnects have been organised up until September 19, and the NTA has said it wants to “keep everyone on the proposed Sustainable Transport Corridors fully in the picture at all times”.

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