Monday, June 1, 2009

Size Matters

As everybody can tell you - size matters. When talking cities that is. Waterford is too small we're told. Well only if you follow outdated administrative boundaries that artifically limit they way you count the figures.

There's a new measure out - the Gateways Development Index (GDI) and in it, Waterford fares as the worst of the cities under all the markers. Now I can understand it on the educational index. We don't have a University. Full stop. And as long as this incompetent Government continues, it seems at this stage that we won't. But those days are numbered (if I'm to believe the electorate on the doorsteps). Friday will tell a lot.

But on the other measures I cannot see why Waterford does not score more highly. The only reason it seems to me, is size. We aren't big enough.

If 'Waterford' included populations on its verges - although not within city boundaries - and populations in the dorimtory towns surrounding us like Tramore, Dunmore East, Portlaw and South Kilkenny, we would be in the running, size wise, to compete. But no, we must labour under useless, ancient, meaningless borders and as a result, the whole region is held up. Because less numbers attracts less investment on every front from both National or International sources.

I hear every day, calls from politicians in the South East saying that we need to work together. When you read between the lines, what they really mean is that their little town or village or whatever should not suffer at the expense of Waterford City. If we are truly to grow as a region then I'm afraid the simple truth is, that investment simply does need to be concentrated in the City. But you will never get a consensus for that. And the way local authorities break down numbers-wise, Waterford City has very few in comparison to Kilkenny County Council or Wexford County Council, or Tipperary or Carlow. And certainly cannot counter-act them all together - even if Waterford County Councillors would support this premise (and they don't).

I have always thought that the East of the County, from aboout Portlaw eastwards should be a part of suburban Waterford. Adding in those towns would certainly give us the numbers - even if no-one is ever, ever going to be brave enough to take the right decision and extend our boundary into South Kilkenny (even on paper - while allowing the old traditional boundary to stand for all other purposes).

The National Spatial Strategy (for what it's worth at this stage) prioritised Waterford City saying that development in this region needed to be concentrated here. This, however is anathema to those in Kilkenny or Dungarvan or Wexford or Clonmel - or even Tramore. Short of pricking holes in the condoms sold in the city (LOL), unless and until we are allowed to count those people actually living in the city environs and dormitory towns, we are never going to have the population to justify the type of investment we deserve and need. Is anyone ever going to be brave enough to tell our neighbours the truth? And are they ever going to listen? Not IMHO.

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