DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS have poured cold water on the potential of the granting of town status for Westbury.
While suggesting the name of Athlunkard, Cathal Crowe TD (FF) during his days as a county councillor proposed that Westbury, Shannon Banks and Carraig Midhe be approved town status by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. “This particular settlement of the county though it is only behind Ennis and Shannon in its density is only considered a village,” he commented.
Crowe’s motion which was in the lead-up to the 2019 local election was supported by the late Mike McKee (SF) who remarked, “It is made up of housing estates and you’d say why should it be a town and I’ll tell you why, it’s the same as Shannon. Shannon started out with just Drumgeely and it was tiny and pathetic but it has grown since. There is no reason if Shannon is a town that Westbury, Carraig Midhe and Shannonbanks shouldn’t be the same”.
Despite the proposal being put before the Shannon Municipal District in March 2019, it has not progressed in any meaningful manner. Ability to apply for town funding was among the motivations for tabling the request.
An update was sought at a recent sitting of the Shannon MD by Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) who recalled that the motion had been proposed and seconded by Crowe and McKee. “I don’t have an update, I have raised it with the housing department,” senior executive officer with the Shannon MD, Jason Murphy responded. “Multiple housing estates developed around it, I will get an update and come back,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage confirmed to The Clare Echo this week that it had received the request for town status. “Town status has historically being granted in Ireland under local government legislation, however, these provisions are no longer in force and were replaced by the Municipal District Structure of Local Government in 2014. Therefore, the granting of town status has no legal basis in local government legislation and Municipal Districts are now the fundamental sub-county level of governance and democratic representation in Ireland”.
Westbury resident, Eugene Long who contested the 2019 local election for Fine Gael was sceptical of the proposal. “It would be great if it was recognised like a village in the form of helping to get more grants and more help from the Council rather than to be treated as an estate. It is three estates it’s not a town, we have a shopping centre but it’s not a town and I don’t know how it can be treated as such but it would be great if anything was to happen that would help get more amenities and things like that”.