Disbanding residents’ association a ‘wake-up call’ to authorities, warns O’Rourke

The decision taken by Brawny Residents' Association to disband is "regrettable" but "understandable" Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O'Rourke, stated this week.

Planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanala for the construction of the largest residential development in Athlone in close proximity to the existing Brawny housing development, is one of a number of reasons for the dissolution of the residents' association which, Cllr O'Rourke noted, has "faced numerous challenges", in particular, with regard to the recent planning permission award.

"The news that Brawny Residents' Association is to disband is a matter of great concern for the residents in the area.

"The committee comprised a very active, hardworking and pro-active group of people, they wanted nothing more than to see the estate looking its best, well managed and well maintained and they did that very successfully for over a decade.

"While I am very disappointed that they are disbanding, I fully understand their decision to do so. They are a voluntary group who gave huge personal time to ensure all was in good order within the Brawny estate.

"However, I personally am aware of the battles and challenges they faced, not just with the new Strategic Housing Development, but on a daily basis, the committee encountered challenges that ultimately they could not overcome because they did not receive the co-operation needed from the authorities.

"I am sure the committee disbanded with a heavy heart, I have no doubt about that. They take immense pride in their homes and the estate, but for them enough is enough and I understand that.

"On a regular basis I received complaints regarding the same individuals in Brawny who engage in illegal behaviour. These individuals are involved in the buying and selling of drugs.

"The same personnel regularly dump rubbish causing serious environmental issues for those in the vicinity. This behaviour is illegal and in breach of Council tenancy agreements.

"The residents' association repeatedly report these matters to the authorities, but as no meaningful sanctions are imposed the illegal activities will continue and the problems exacerbate.

"Inevitably, if you are the one reporting the issues without results, you do become disillusioned by the lack of authority action taken. The committee did its utmost in this regard, but clearly found that they simply were not getting the support they required.

"While all anti-social behaviour is not exclusive to council tenants, our local authority are not strict enough with regards to responding to serious complaints.

"I reiterate that if such behaviour experienced in Brawny and in alternative locations in Athlone was happening in Mullingar, it would not be tolerated.

"Let this decision by Brawny Residents' Association serve as a wake up call to the authorities. We have to deal with those who repeatedly flout the law or face the prospect of further residents' associations disbanding and returning estate maintenance and management duties to the council," Cllr O'Rourke remarked.

Expressing his immense disappointment at the decision to disband the residents' association, committee member, Keith Dowling, noted that responsibility of all Brawny estate matters has been transferred to the council with immediate effect.

"It has been the privilege of the Brawny residents' association to serve our community and we have achieved some great successes during this time.

"We have, to no avail, come to the end of a long protracted battle regarding the future of the estate and it is no longer feasible for the residents' association to continue managing, maintaining or insuring the estate which, upon the decision of An Bord Pleanala, becomes a live building site.

"This must now be managed by the council who appear to have little interest in listening to the concerns of Brawny committee members or residents.

"They will need to demonstrate their own self interest in preventing the area from falling into disrepair, having enjoyed the support of committees taking collective ownership of all matters relating to upkeep of this council estate.

"We have commenced the process of notifying all contributing bodies and affiliations of our decision and will endeavour to conclude a complete wind down in as quick a timescale as possible.

"We have taken inventory of all assets and will look to segregate and return all items under caretaker agreement while exploring options to retain items purchased or granted to the estate in perpetuity. This would include the storage container and goals.

"We are aware that this decision will have a negative impact on the estate and its employees currently engaged within schemes, but unfortunately we have come to the decision that our duties have been fulfilled and all avenues have now been closed firmly shut by Westmeath County Council and the executive.

"We apologise for any distress this may cause residents who currently have outstanding matters on which they have sought residents' association committee support, but unfortunately it is unavoidable.

"We would appreciate no negativity to the committee or its members regarding this decision, we have all worked completely voluntarily and tirelessly for a number of years for a lot of members in a constructive open and honest manner for all," Keith asserted.


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