The patience of Wexford councillors is wearing thin as they continue to await a report from Wexford Borough District Council into how an outdoor dining area in Cornmarket branded as a “monstrosity” was allowed to be built.
ix months ago, they were informed that the council had sought legal advice on the development outside the Thomas Moore Tavern, which was granted a three-year outdoor tables and chairs licence by the local authority in June of 2021.
Councillors were continuously informed at recent meetings that legal advice was awaited and a report would be furnished at the September meeting. However, at the monthly meeting on Monday, it was still not available.
“We were told we would have a report “, said Cllr David Hynes who complained at the July meeting that he almost had an accident there, due to reduced sightlines and traffic hazard caused by the structure which is located beside a roundabout.
Acting Director of Services Brian Galvin said due to an issue of visibility and safety being raised, it was being reviewed by a roads engineer and a Stop sign had been installed to improve safety.
Adding that the planning issue was also being reviewed, he said he had hoped to have a report by Monday’s meeting but he would now have it by the next meeting in October.
“We have been told now since February that there will be a report. I was informed we would get an explanation of what happened and why it happened. It’s not acceptable that we don’t have a report,” said Cllr Hynes.
“One of the oldest areas of the town has been defaced in my opinion. We need an explanation for this. Our patience is running out at this stage.”
“It’s not good enough”, declared Cllr George Lawlor. “This is an issue that has engaged so many people around the town. It’s not good enough that we don’t have a report. It’s a very serious matter. This is not the first time that Cllr Hynes and others have raised this issue.”
Questioning why the report wasn’t available, he said he didn’t think it would take a vast amount of legal research to be able to come to the chamber and answer questions on what happened.
“I have to say I don’t think it’s good enough that we are sitting here again asking questions about what happened, how it happened and what is going to happen. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask. Why is it taking so long?”
Mayor of Wexford Maura Bell asked if they could have a guarantee that there would be a report at the next meeting.
Mr Galvin said he was sorry it has taken so long and he promised that a report would be presented at the October meeting.
“We have looked at the issue of visibility. We have sought a legal opinion from our solicitors and that is in train. Once we get that report we will compile a report for the council.”
Cllr Leonard Kelly asked if the council was looking at all the options up to and including that the structure be taken down, depending on what the legal advice is.
The director said he didn’t want to pre-empt what is in the report and wished to await the advice.
Cllr John Hegarty said he hoped it wasn’t just a case of “stalling or fobbing off”.
He recalled that councillors were advised about legal advice having already been sought at former Director of Services Tony Larkin’s last meeting in March.
“Is that the same legal team we are talking about?” he asked.
“Yes, it is the same legal advice. We hope to have it very shortly”, replied Mr Galvin.
The Mayor noted that the owners of the structure were now in the second year of a three-year licence for the outdoor dining area.