Laois may be left out in the cold, fear councillors, with the replacement of the Border Midlands West (BMW) and the Midlands Region Authority by a new group of 12 councils including four from Dublin.
Part of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the transition to the new group is underway, to be complete by the end of the year, with a chief executive from South Dublin in charge for the first two years.
At last Monday’s July meeting, the council’s two BMW reps expressed fear that Laois would not get a fair share of funding in the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly.
“I and Cllr Bracken are totally opposed, Laois is going to be absolutely swamped. Whatever about the old region, we had something in common, but there are masses of councillors in Dublin,” said Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.
“We have nothing in common with the Dublin region, we won’t be listened to. There is a new minister Alan Kelly, we must write to him. I ask Cllr Noel Tuohy to use his influence through Minister Kelly and Senator Whelan, and stress the importance of what this means,” said Cllr Bracken,
He believes other counties have also little hope of getting a fair crack of the whip.
“At the AGM last Thursday, no-one from Leitrim or Longford even showed up,” he said .
They were supported by Cllr Tuohy, Cllr Brendan Phelan and Cllr Willie Aird, who proposed that the reps and the county manager meet Minister Kelly to press their case.
“The guidelines in the capital are completely different to rural planning, The BMW region is very important to us, there are benefits to be got, we will get none if we are lobbed in with Dublin,” said Cllr Aird.
“I would like to have a formal submission, it’s not enough to say we’ll be swamped, we must explain we are a small county that has never benefited from industrial development, and we want to make our voice heard,” Cllr Jerry Lodge said.
The 12 regions are Louth, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Fingal, Dublin City, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Wicklow, Laois, Kildare and Offaly.