Wednesday, 20th June 2012
National Spatial Strategy not delivering for Waterford – Cullinane
Speaking to a motion he tabled in the Seanad on the performance of the National Spatial Strategy for the South East and Waterford Senator David Cullinane said it was clear and obvious that the strategy was failing the region. He said the strategy lacked the instruments and tools necessary to deliver on its objectives.
Senator Cullinane said:
"A recent report entitled 'Enterprise and Labour; Hubs, Gateways and Inter-regional Specialisation' was presented by the ESRI. It measured progress on a regional, Gateway and Hub basis 10 years on from the formation of the National Spatial Strategy (N.S.S.). The figures are worrying for Waterford and the Southeast. In terms of employment change it showed that Cork, Galway, Dublin and Letterkenny were the only areas that gained employment. It showed a substantial increase in employment share of a combined 12.5% for Dublin, Cork and Galway but a drop in the other Gateways of 12%.
"It is clear that there is something systemically wrong in the Southeast. There is no natural reason why the region should be underperforming but the fact is it is. The recent live register figures show a regional unemployment figure of 19.5%. This is well above the national average of 14.3%.
"On the face of it the region has most of the ingredients – A strong agricultural sector, the existence of ports in Waterford and Wexford, easy access to markets and in recent times the provision of important and critical infrastructure. The big question is why is the Southeast underperforming so badly and why has the N.S.S. not delivered for the region?
"I believe the fault lies partly in the region itself but mostly in the lack of any instruments or tools associated with the N.S.S. There is no doubt that there needs to be a much stronger and robust regional focus on all issues including economic development. This has to entail a genuine buy in from the region politically.
"The N.S.S. if it is to serve its stated purpose needs to have an instrument value. For the South East. this means positive discrimination by enterprise agencies, a strong regional dimension to Government Employment policies and critically the provision of a University for the region.
"It is interesting also that the Minister for the Environment seeks to merge the two local authorities in Waterford leaving the Gateway City without real autonomy yet will not do so for Galway for fear of compromising the Gateway City of the West. Why something different for Waterford?
"Policy on paper is exactly that. It only holds value if the policy is backed up with resources and tangible instruments that deliver change. This is what the Southeast needs."
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