Dunsink Lane – an intractable mess

Report To The Chairman and Members,North West Area Committee.

Item No 22

Meeting of 17th June 2010

Dunsink Lane.

At the last meeting of the City Council, it was agreed that a report would
be presented to the June meeting of the NWAC regarding issues pertaining to
Dunsink Lane.

Dunsink Lane is wholly located within the administrative area of Fingal
County Council. There are three official Traveller Sites on the Lane. For
historical reasons two of these sites, St Josephs Park and St. Marys Park
are administered by the City Council while the other site, Bill Shelley
Park is administered by Fingal County Council. There are also a substantial
number of other Travellers living on unofficial sites on the Lane.

There are no particular issues pertaining to St Marys Park other than the
entrance from Dunsink Lane requires resurfacing and this will be done this
year. Bill Shelley Park has been almost totally de-tenanted by Fingal and
there is only one house occupied in this eight house scheme.

The City Council has a long standing proposal in its Traveller
Accommodation Programme to replace the existing 28 bay Halting Site of St
Josephs Park with a 30 – 36 house Traveller Group Housing Scheme. This
project would require Planning Permission from Fingal County Council but
Fingal has stated for a number of years that any such Planning Application
would be premature until a Plan for the entire Dunsink Lane Area is
finalised and adopted. The St Josephs Park Site currently houses
approximately twelve families which are spread throughout the 28 bays. It
is accepted that the condition of the site has deteriorated over the last
few years. The Head of the Traveller Accommodation Unit has proposed that
these twelve families would be consolidated into a single part of the site,
with the relevant twelve bays to be refurbished and that part of the site
would also be cleaned up etc. The remainder of the site could be closed
off. A meeting was arranged with the residents in this regard on the site
some time ago but none of the residents turned up. It is proposed to
re-schedule this meeting and it is most likely to take place before the
June meeting of the NWAC.

There have been recent allegations of lack of water in St Josephs Park.
These reports are inaccurate. In the period between December 2009 and
February 2010, St Josephs Park occasionally suffered from low water
pressure and on some occasions a complete loss of water supply. This was a
citywide phenomenon due to burst and frozen watermains and service
connections associated with the severe wintry conditions which prevailed at
that time. The Traveller Accommodation Unit has had no such reports from
residents since last March and this report related to a service problem to
a particular bay rather than to the site or the area as a whole.

A problem with the drainage system in St Josephs Park came to light
recently and it appears to relate to a number of manholes in an adjacent
area being damaged due to works. This matter is being examined by Fingal
County Council and will be resolved shortly.

Dunsink Lane itself has been beset by a number of issues for many years.
The problem of bursts in the watermain has already been alluded to in this
report. Fingal County Council is committed to eliminating these leaks on
phased basis. However a number of leaks have been identified as being
caused by illegal connections to the mains by residents on Dunsink Lane.
Illegal dumping and fly-tipping have been a problem on Dunsink Lane for
many years and have persisted despite regular clean-up’s by Fingal County
Council and regular checkpoints operated by Waste Management Staff from DCC
& Fingal supported by An Garda Siochana. There is a proposal with Fingal
County Council that CCTV be provided on Dunsink Lane to assist with
surveillance and prosecution. The costs associated with this proposal are
currently being examined.

There is a Joint-Forum for the Dunsink Lane Area which is attended by staff
from both Fingal & DCC and chaired by a Director Of Service from Fingal.

Kieran Cunningham,
Senior Executive Officer.
Housing & Residential Services Department,

Report to the Chairman and Members
North West Area Committee

Meeting of 17th June 2010

Item No 23

Works carried out by Fingal County Council on Dunsink Lane

Illegal Dumping
Fingal Co. Council carried out two cleanups in 2008 and the lane was last
cleared of illegally dumped rubbish in March 2009. The waste collected on
each cleanup amounts to an average weight of 1400 tonnes. Since this period
rubbish has continued to be dumped on the lane.
Despite significant resources employed on the lane it has not been possible
to gain enough information to bring a prosecution against those who are
dumping. This is despite over 1000 hours of surveillance by the regional
enforcement unit, covert CCTV surveillance and of multi-agency road
checkpoints (An Garda Siochana, Customs, Revenue and the Local Authority).
There has been one conviction under the Waste Management Act against one
of the residents of the lane. Where evidence was found to identify the
original source of the waste legal notices were served, there was one
successful prosecution under the Litter Act in March this year, but in most
cases the individuals identified were untraceable.
The majority of the dumping on the lane is caused by residents of one of
the unauthorised sites located there and no cleanups have been organised as
they only assist the illegal activity by clearing the waste away from the
lane.
Fingal County Council will arrange for the lower part of the lane will be
cleaned up to provide access to the authorised halting sites however there
are no immediate plans to clean up the rest of the lane.
The difficulties in enforcing the Waste Management Act are substantial,
much the illegal activity is carried out in the hours of darkness and poses
risks to the safety of enforcement staff. In addition due to the nature of
the terrain and co-operation between residents on the lane illegal activity
ceases when there is a Garda or Local Authority presence.
Fingal Co. Council is in discussions with An Garda Siochana to see if these
problems can be addressed and are examining the feasibility of installing
CCTV camera to monitor activity on the lane. If the CCTV camera proves
feasible the Council will arrange for the cleanup of the whole lane in
order to effectively monitor illegal activity.

Proposed Horse Facility
There is an overall land-use plan, for the general Dunsink area, being
prepared. The outcome of this process is awaited before determining what
action the Council will carry out in relation to Traveller specific
accommodation.

Following the handover of the former landfill at Dunsink from Environmental
Services to the Parks Division in Fingal Co. Council, the Division entered
into a series of meetings with the DSPCA and the horse owners in Dunsink
with a view to exercising some control over the movement and health of
horses on the site.

As a result of this ongoing consultation it has been agreed that an area of
land would be made available within the site to facilitate the care and
recreation of the horses. Some preliminary site works have commenced to
clean up the site in question. Consultation is continuing between the
parties involved to decide the design, layout and management of the site
into the future.

By dealing with the issue of horses in conjunction with the DSPCA, it is
hoped that the Council can develop the remaining area of Dunsink, including
the playing pitches.

Water Leaks
In order to conserve water Fingal Co.Council endeavors to repair all leaks
on Dunsink Lane as soon as resources will allow. The most recent repair was
at the beginning of April, when the Council had to disconnect an illegal
service connection, which resulted in a considerable volume of water
continuously running down the lane.

This location presents special difficulties, due to the extent of illegal
connections being made to Council mains and the potential danger posed to
staff trying to locate and repair the associated leaks. Because of this
concern, Council staff are not allowed to visit this location on their own,
or outside normal working hours.

Traveller Sites
There is an overall land-use plan, for the general Dunsink area, being
prepared by Fingal Co. Council. The outcome of this process is awaited
before determining what action the Council will carry out in relation to
Traveller specific accommodation,

Michael O’Neill
Area Manager