Local senator Gabrielle McFadden (FG ) has asked for more funding for Athlone Municipal District, and has called on Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, to designate Athlone as a Municipal Borough District.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, she welcomed the announcement of Athlone as a regional centre for the Midlands, and went on to outline the need for a distinct urban local election area whose primary focus would be the town of Athlone.
Town Councils were abolished in 2014 and will not be reintroduced. However, the terms of a current review of local election boundaries allow for distinct urban-focused local electoral areas for all towns with a population of more than 15,000 people. In addition, a small number of towns will also be given designation as Municipal Borough Districts - former Borough Council areas and towns with more than 30,000 people.
“The towns of Sligo, Dundalk and Drogheda, all of which were given particular recognition within the National Planning Framework, are to be designated as Municipal Borough Districts,” Senator McFadden said. “It is clear to me that the logic of the role identified for Athlone in the National Development Plan would suggest that Athlone should also be designated as a Municipal Borough District.”
If that role is to be fulfilled, Senator McFadden says that Athlone will need extra resources.
“I have spoken to Minister John Paul Phelan and asked him to assign discretionary spending to the Athlone District to allow them to undertake necessary projects. I have written to Minister Shane Ross to ask for additional roads funding to be assigned to the District and I will be contacting further ministers,” Senator McFadden stated.
“By granting Municipal Borough District status and by allocating funding that can be spent by that District, the Fine Gael-led Government would be ensuring that Athlone would be well placed to meet the needs of the future and to fulfill the challenge of being a Centre to drive the development of the Midlands region.”