Manager of the County & City Councils
I am pleased to be associated with the presentation of this Annual Report for the year 2009.
This report is a snapshot of the activities of Kilkenny County & Borough Council's for that year.
I wish to place on record my thanks and admiration for the efforts of elected members, management and staff of the two authorities in maintaining a high level of service delivery, to the people of the county and city, against a background of reduced resources. Within the main body of this report the various activities and delivery of services and infrastructure projects being progressed by Kilkenny County & City Borough Council's are outlined
I wish to draw attention to the following highlights:-
The major progress and partial opening of the M9, and the completion of the Waterford City Bypass which have already transformed access within the region. Other capital works included commencement of Improvement Works on the N10 Ring Road and progress on the R700 Thomastown Relief Road.
The construction of Castlecomer Fire Station.
The successful opening of the Watershed Sports Complex in January 2009 which is an outstanding sports, recreation and community facility for the people of the county.
The completion of the Parade Project in 2009 which formed part of the ongoing effort to make Kilkenny an even more attractive tourism destination and a place where citizens wish to live and work and the purchase of St. Mary's Church - a key heritage acquisition.
Substantial progress has also been made on the Water Services Capital Programme in 2009 and in particular construction commenced on Phase 1 of the Mooncoin Water Supply Scheme - a critical requirement for industrial and economic development in Belview and in South Kilkenny.
Possibly the greatest challenge facing us as a county is how to bridge the financial gap between Water infrastructure requirements and the cost of providing same. This issue has been the focus of debate at many council meetings and was highlighted in detail to the Minister for the Environment when he met with the members of Kilkenny County & Borough Councils in November 2009.
As a response to the current economic difficulties and its impact on the citizens of Kilkenny, the members initiated the preparation of an economic development plan for Kilkenny. This plan will focus on how best to maximise Kilkenny's competiveness in this challenging environment. The plan will focus on and will target various development zones, development sectors and seek to establish linkages at local, national and international level.
Linked to the economic development strategy is the ongoing development of the towns and villages within the county. During 2009 Local Area Plans were finalised for Callan, Graignamanagh, Castlecomer, Thomastown, the Ferrybank Belview area, Bennettsbridge and Kilmacow. I would like to thank the members, officials and communities who engaged so proactively in this process.
2009 saw the election of a new Council for the County and for the City with a mandate to set policy across a range of areas for the next five years.
I look forward to working with the new Council to meet the serious challenges which we face as a county and city during these difficult times. I wish to acknowledge the contribution made and the public service of those members who retired or were not returned and particularly to acknowledge the contribution of former Cllrs. Tom Brennan and Dick Dowling who gave outstanding public service for over 30 years.
The year 2009 saw a significant number of retirements and also unfortunately a number of job losses within the organisation as temporary and contract staff had to be let go. I wish to thank all of them for their service to the people of Kilkenny and to pay particular tribute to Director of Community & Enterprise Mr. Tony Walsh who retired after 37 years of distinguished and dedicated service. I am aware of the pressures that this has placed on the remaining staff and I wish to express appreciation for the work done by them in 2009.
Finally I wish to thank the Cathaoirleach Cllr. Michael O'Brien and the Mayor Cllr. Malcolm Noonan for their chairmanships of the Councils and representation of the County and of the City with all sections of the community.
I commend this annual report and I am confident that it will give an overview of the broad range of activities undertaken and the achievements of the Council's of the County & City of Kilkenny in 2009.