3 ideas to improve Balbriggan

The proposal of the Town Architect has been outlined in a previous post, so I want to explain how the other two proposals could be developed and how they would impact to make life better in North Fingal.

Community Budgeting

Many people are skeptical about government, politicians and it is almost like people do not believe a word that comes out of a politician’s mouth. No doubt some are making their own interpretations of the announcement of €20m for Balbriggan and going on previous record wondering, after consultants, reports etc, how much will there really be for improving Balbriggan?

I empathise strongly with theses skeptical sentiments. People’s patience has been sorely tested to such an extent, that many are now disillusioned with politics and government. At the same time, there are things that can be done that will make a difference.

My proposal around ‘community budgeting’ could be a great aspect of the OurBalbriggan plan. Let’s give the community an allocation of that €20m and let the community develop project ideas, share information and then decide which projects get delivered. Community budgeting is a participatory process where ideas are developed, shared and short listed. You can read more information on the link below, where it was tried in South Dublin.

Community budgeting is an international concept, that has been trialled and run in numerous countries. What I like about it is that it will help communities understand politics, process, budgeting and in general the work of government. In turn, it can help councils understand communities, their make up, desires, hopes, fears and expectations. I would love to see this practice develop in Fingal County Council.

Co Working Hubs

We all know innovation parks, IDA parks, places like the Beat Centre Balbriggan. These centres develop with state investment to help business from the point of view of facilitating large enterprises or helping small one’s develop and grow.

I think it would be great to develop this concept of Co Working Hubs. The concept is in recognition that too many of us are working far from where we live. Many people already work from home some days and more employers are willing to be flexible in facilitating new working arrangements. Coworking hubs allows groups of employees to share space together in an office, which is not necessarily the company main office. It is already in practice in some places in Ireland, including in Drogheda

The practice of developing such hubs has numerous benefits. If led by the council, it could serve to repurpose abandoned or derelict spaces in the town centre and in turn generate rental income for the council over time. It would serve to regenerate main streets, not only through redevelopment of old buildings, but through ongoing activities eg staff going to lunch locally.

The best outcome of coworking hubs is that it would mean some people in Balbriggan would have the benefit of cutting down, if not eliminating their daily commute. This would have a transformative impact on the employees quality of life.

Social Democrats co leader Roisin Shortall TD

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