Latest Laois News: Portlaoise councillors’ delight with €9 million low-carbon funding & “advancement” of town bus service

Latest Laois News: Portlaoise councillors’ delight with €9 million low-carbon funding & “advancement” of town bus service

This week’s meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District (MD) saw all councillors present express their delight about the news the county town was to get €9 million funding to achieve low-carbon status. Indeed Portlaoise, as a pilot project, will be the first such ‘Low Carbon Town’ in the country.

Portlaoise MD Cathaoirleach Thomasina O’ Connell began proceedings by thanking the staff of Laois County Council (LCC) for helping secure that funding. In response LCC Director of Services Simon Walton pointed that the council’s own 2040 Vision document outlined a vision of Portlaoise as being a town in a garden and of being a low carbon town.

“This movie represents an animation of proposed interventions made by a team of urban design, transport and heritage consultants led by Bilfinger GVA to help Portlaoise plan a way forward up to 2040 whilst aiming to address challenges around pedestrian and vehicular mobility, town centre depopulation, and conservation of heritage.”

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Direcor of Services Mr. Simon Walton went on to say that the total ‘Low Carbon Town’ budget was in fact €12 million as Laois County Council had to come up with €3 million in matching funding. Mr. Walton added that the first round of the scheme had begun with the works at and around the Fort Protector and the forthcoming works on Tower Hill as well as the CBS and Convent site works.

Mr. Walton went out to outline Round 2 of the scheme’s scope. It includes a focus on the public realm with the refurbishment of the entire Main Street and also of the Lyster Square, Pepper and Bull Lanes . This round will also see the reconnecting of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ towns. Mr. Walton declared that this is a “good news story” and “excellent for Portlaoise and County Laois.” Mr. Walton went on to praise the various groups in the town including Portlaoise Tidy Towns, Downtown Portlaoise and Laois Chamber of Commerce for having fed into this “collective effort of incremental improvements” in and to Portlaoise.

Councillor Caroline Dwane Stanley called it a “great initiative” but was adamant that the retrofitting of houses, especially older council housing, ensure that the housing be brought up to an A or B Energy rating. Councillor Catherine Fitzgerald professed herself “absolutely delighted.” She continued as follows;

“(This) is going to make Portlaoise one of the best places to live and work in Ireland. Portlaoise is one of the best places and it’s going to get better.”

Councillor Willie Aird lauded the “huge push” this funding announcement represented but was concerned that there are ongoing issues around CCTV and public lighting to be addressed in Portlaoise. He underlined how important these issues were for our older residents; our “little pockets of mostly senior members.”

Councillor Noel Tuohy was adamant that the Main Street should become the hub of the new, improved Portlaoise. He continued as follows;

“(The scheme will hopefully) drag the main street into the heart of Portlaoise. I hope traders will reap the benefits.”

Councillor John Joe Fennelly queried whether bus links would be included under the scheme.

In answer to the councillors’ concerns Director of Services Mr. Simon Walton had this to say;

photo of a bus
Significant advancements have been made in relation to a Portlaoise bus service.

“Part of the funding from the UDRF (Urban Development & Regeneration Fund) funds the retrofit of public lighting. There are issues around public lighting and (Laois County Council) will address public lighting deficiencies.

As for bus links in the town Mr. Walton told the councillors present the following;

“Laois County Council (LCC) is liaising with the National Transport Authority (NTA) (around) the public transport network around the county. LCC is also engaging with and advising the NTA about a Portlaoise bus service. Significant advancements (have been made on this issue)”.