Important Update from Clare PPN following September 9th Council Meeting

Important update from Clare PPN on yesterday’s Clare County Council meeting.

Please note that we still need to seek clarity on some issues below as these are just based on our notes from yesterday and will need to be confirmed by official council minutes. 

Update on Clare PPN’s Submissions to Clare County Council from their meeting of September 9th 2019

Yesterday, among other business, three items on which Clare PPN and our member groups had made submissions on were up for consideration by Clare County Council.
Those items were
• Clare County’s Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy 2019- 2024
• The Draft Scheme for Strategic Policy Committees 2019 – 2024
• Clare County’s Traveller Accommodation Strategy 2019- 2024

Clare PPN had contacted all Councillors seeking their support in advance of this meeting because it was brought to our attention that in particular the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy was being presented to Councillors as originally drafted despite more than 29 individual submissions being received. One of those submissions was from Clare PPN and Clare Environmental Network and had been contributed to by 27 separate environmental groups in the County. We are grateful that a cross party group of Councillors sought and secured a special meeting of Clare County Council on the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy. This will ensure that Councillors can consider each submission received and question the directors of service as to their decisions. This meeting will take place next Monday September 16th at 2pm in the Council Chamber and the gallery will be open to the public. We would encourage any of our members who made submissions to attend however we will also attend at take notes for feedback purposes.

As part of Clare PPN’s submissions to both the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy 2019 -2024 and to the Draft Strategic Policy Committee 2019- 2024 we had requested that a separate dedicated Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategic Policy Committee be set up in Clare and that all other SPCs would have a minimum of one environmental representative seat. The proposal for a Climate Change and Biodiversity SPC was not agreed at yesterday’s meeting which is something that Clare PPN and our member groups consider a lost opportunity and it is something we will continue to campaign for. Several changes that we do welcome were proposed and seconded however by the Councillors and we look forward to seeing the following actions implemented:

-A full time Climate Change and Biodiversity Officer will be appointed from within existing staff resources to oversee Climate Change and Biodiversity Actions across all directorates.

-Each Strategic Policy Committee will have Climate Change and Biodiversity as a standing agenda item.

-Each Directorate will issue a monthly report on Climate Change and Biodiversity as part of their contribution to the Monthly Management Report.

We also note the proposals to rename/add areas of responsibility two existing Strategic Policy Committees as follows:
The Physical Development SPC will be renamed ‘SPC for Physical Development and Climate Change’ and the SPC for Economic Development will be renamed SPC for Economic Development and Biodiversity. On behalf of our members we seek clarification from the Council on the rationale for these changes, in particular we wish to ascertain the reason that Climate Change and Biodiversity are being separated and secondly how it was decided that biodiversity should sit with Economic Development. Clare PPN considers that the changes in responsibility for the above SPCs will necessitate extra seats for community environmental interests if they are to be effective. We will seek clarity from Clare County Council as to whether this has already been incorporated in the changes.

We thank the Councillors for their support in ensuring that the views of all of those who made submissions will be given consideration at Council level next Monday and for working to ensure that Climate Change and Biodiversity are made central to the work of all directorates in the Council. We look forward to working with them to ensure that these actions are implemented as soon as possible.

Submissions relating to the Traveller Community:
Our submission on the Draft Strategic Policy Scheme requested that the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee be reconfigured as a Strategic Policy Committee which is in line with a proposal made in an independently commissioned report for the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee. This was not accepted and the LTACC will instead continue as a stand-alone committee, where issues raised may come before the Social Development SPC which deals with housing. Clare PPN is disappointed that this committee was not reconfigured as suggested however we remain committed to working alongside Travellers to ensure that successful and meaningful participation is possible for the Traveller Community in Clare.

Further to that we welcome the fact that the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019 – 2024 was not adopted at yesterday’s Council meeting and was deferred until next month’s meeting. We had expressed our concerns that this plan was being passed without involvement from the Traveller Community. We will seek clarity however from Clare County Council on whether during this deferred month the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme will reopen for submissions and if so what efforts will be made by the Local Authority to ensure that the community affected by this accommodation programme have an opportunity to have their views heard. Clare PPN is willing to assist in this regard in whatever way we can.

Overall we feel that several progressive changes were agreed at yesterday’s council meeting and whilst some of the above needs clarification we are extremely glad that the above strategies were not passed without respect and consideration given to community engagement. We hope to see further progress being made, in particular in relation to the issue of a dedicated Climate Change and Biodiversity SPC and towards a respectful and meaningful engagement between the Traveller community and the local authority. We state Clare PPN’s own commitment to working to ensure that the public and in particular Community and voluntary groups in Clare are able to influence and input to Local Government decisions. Thanks to the Councillors for their work on all of the above and in particular our thanks to all of those who engaged with and participated in our submissions.

 

Please note that as we said above these are not official minutes from Clare County Council’s meeting but are notes taken as the meeting happened so we can’t guarantee that we have no inaccuracies – but we’ll confirm as we get all details and official reports.

 

Email to Clare County Councillors

Below please find the text of the email send by Clare PPN to all sitting Clare County Councillors on 6th September 2019

Dear Councillors,

I am writing to you on behalf of Clare PPN in relation to the following agenda items for next Monday September 9ths Council Meeting

  1. SPC Scheme
  2. —-
  3. Report to Council on Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019-2024
  4. Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019 – 2024

 

In respect of item 13. SPC scheme

I have linked the submission Clare PPN has made in relation to that here (http://clareppn.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Clare-PPN-Submission-SCHEME-FOR-THE-STRATEGIC-POLICY-COMMITTEES-2019-2024-003.pdf) and wish to draw to your attention as Councillors that we have in brief requested the following- that a separate Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategic Policy Committee be set up as provided for under the Government’s Climate Action Strategy 2019:

3.3 ‘Local authorities have significant structures and experience in engaging citizens through their planning functions, particularly local area planning and as facilitators of the Public Participation Networks (PPNs). They can also effectively contribute to climate action in the fulfilment of their existing statutory functions. Climate change considerations should be addressed across all local authority plans, policies and activities including through their existing Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and a dedicated new Climate Change SPC for climate action.’

On behalf of our environmental college members we would like to draw it to your attention that they do not consider the above requirement to be met by the existing Physical Development SPC which has other areas of responsibility. Our members as consulted on this strategy request strongly that a separate dedicated Climate Change and Biodiversity Committee is set up.

We have also requested that the current Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee be reconvened as a Strategic Policy Committee and included in the scheme. This is in line with the recommendations  from the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee’s independent review of funding for traveller specific accommodation attached below. (https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/2017.07.07_independent_review_of_funding_for_traveller-specific_accommodation.pdf

 

In respect of item 15. Report to Council on Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024,

We note that our submission made to this programme (http://clareppn.ie/clare-ppn-submission-in-respect-of-the-preparation-of-a-draft-traveller-accommodation-programme-2019-2024/) was not taken on board and neither were our suggestions to postpone or stagger the adoption of this plan until such a time as the community affected by it had been consulted effectively.  We also requested that the last scheduled LTACC meeting would be delayed by one day in order to facilitate a consultation we had organised with the Traveller Primary Health Care workers who had conducted extensive research with the Traveller Community in Clare and so were in a position to contribute in an informed way. This delay was not facilitated and the LTACC meeting did not take place.

As a result Clare PPN has forwarded the notes from this consultation to the Minister of State for Planning and Urban Development, Damien English, and to the Commissioner for Human Rights at IHREC Emily Logan.  As a result of all of the above, the Traveller Accommodation Strategy as presented to Clare County Council has not had any engagement from the Traveller Community and Clare PPN calls on you the Councillors not to pass it until effective participation has been conducted. We indicate as we have done previously, that we are willing to assist in whatever way we can in organising such participation. We include below the notes from our consultation session with the Traveller Primary Health Care Workers as forwarded to the Minister of State and Human Rights Commission for your information. http://clareppn.ie/traveller-primary-health-care-clare-ppn-notes-on-traveller-accomodation/

 

In respect of item 16 Climate Change Adaption Strategy 2019- 2024

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that Clare PPN organised a consultation workshop on the draft of this Strategy on July 31st 2019. This workshop was attended by 40 individuals which included representatives of more than 27 Environmental Groups in County Clare. They prepared an extensive submission to the strategy which included concrete proposals on a range of issues and which we submitted on their behalf.

We have received no response or request for further information in respect of any aspect of that submission and it has been brought to our attention today that the report on the consultation process from the Physical Development Directorate recommends to you the Councillors that the Climate Adaptation Strategy be adopted as originally drafted without any single change despite the fact that 28 other public submissions were made in addition to Clare PPN’s own collective submission.

We are calling on you as Councillors to do your best to ensure that the input of the expertise from the Community and Voluntary Sector is given proper consideration and respect and that the local authority be requested to convene a public meeting in response to the range of submissions it received. Clare PPN notes that in other local authority areas the LA organised public information sessions on the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy and in one case (Cork City) a special meeting of the full council was convened to discuss it and members of the public were invited to attend. We attach here our joint submission for your attention. http://clareppn.ie/clare-ppn-cen-submission-to-draft-climate-adaptation-strategy-2019-2024/

 

On behalf of our member groups and all of those who participated with us on a voluntary basis on the above submissions we request that you would give your attention to the above and work with us to ensure that Clare County Council is open and flexible and that the voices of those affected are heard in all policy decisions.

Kind regards,

Sarah Clancy

Traveller Primary Health Care/Clare PPN notes on Traveller Accommodation

Notes from Consultation on Clare’s Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme

On July 31st Clare PPN consulted with workers from Clare’s Traveller Primary Health Care Project regarding Clare County Council’s Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme for 2019- 2024 which is due to be put before Clare County Council on September 9th. In the consultation the workers determined that to restrict their comments only to the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024 would not best serve the Traveller Community in Clare as they feel strongly that it fails to plan adequately for the current and future situation. As a result they put forward their suggestions on Traveller Accommodation generally and have asked us to compile the following notes from the session and forward them to the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, to the Chief Commissioner at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and to the Director of Social Development and the Senior Officer with responsibility for Housing in Clare County Council.

You can read the notes here Notes on Traveller Accommodation in Clare PHCP PPN August 26th 2019

Letter from Clare PPN to Councillors regarding lack of services for those in Emergency Accommodation

Letter from Clare PPN to Councillors regarding lack of services for those in emergency accommodation in Clare.

Mary O’Donoghue is one of Clare PPN’s social inclusion representatives on Clare’s Local Community Development Committee (LCDC). At the LCDC meeting of October 10th she raised the issue of the lack of available services for people in emergency accommodation in Clare. She has followed this up by sending the letter below to all Councillors on our behalf.

October 25th 2018

Dear Councillor,

It has been brought to the attention of the staff and representatives of Clare PPN on several occasions recently that there are no services available in County Clare for those who are in emergency accommodation in hotel rooms and bed and breakfasts. Clare PPN is aware and supportive of plans to open a family hub in Ennis but understands that the earliest this development is likely to be available is February 2019.

Clare PPN would like to draw it to the attention of the LCDC and all Councillors in Clare that there is an urgent and immediate need for the provision of a hot nutritious meal on a daily basis for the adults and children living in hotels and bed and breakfasts in an accessible venue or delivered to them in their accommodation. There is also a need for a laundry and clothes drying service to be made available for them.

Clare PPN believes that families should not have to be in B&B or hotel accommodation on any long term basis but is calling on the Council and the LCDC to ensure that it does all it can to ensure that whilst this situation continues the provision of laundry and hot meals should be looked at as a basic minimum necessity for the well-being of those in this situation and provided for as soon as possible.

Please may I take this opportunity to ask you to do all you can to ensure that such services are put in place and that Clare County Council take responsibility for making it happen.

Many thanks,

Mary O’Donoghue

LCDC Social Inclusion Representative

Phone: 086 404 3152

Clare PPN submission in respect of the preparation of a draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019-2024

Clare PPN submission in respect of the preparation of a Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024

August 23rd 2018

Clare Public Participation Network Submission in relation to the assessment of existing and projected Traveller accommodation needs and the preparation of a draft Traveller Accommodation Programme for 2019 – 2024 by Clare County Council.

Clare Public Participation Network welcomes this opportunity to make submissions in relation to the assessment of existing and projected need for accommodation for Travellers in Clare and the preparation of a Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme for 2019 – 2024.

Background:

At Clare PPN’s Plenary Meeting of November 30th 2017 the member groups of Clare PPN’s Social Inclusion College listed provision of support to the Travelling community and Traveller’s rights in County Clare as some of the key areas they wished the Clare PPN to focus on for the year ahead.

Clare PPN notes that at present it does not have a specific Traveller organisation amongst its membership and that such an organisation does not currently exist in Clare.  Clare PPN further notes that whilst it continues its efforts to build relationships with the Traveller community in Clare that it does not have the resources to function as a community development organisation or to carry out extensive research into any specific community.

LTACC:

Clare PPN is represented on the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC). It should be noted that the LTACC in Clare has not met since January 2018 and that it requires considerable work, support and flexibility on the part of the Local Authority to develop it into a forum where views can be exchanged and strategic progress made towards ensuring that Travellers have access to culturally appropriate long term accommodation in the county. Clare PPN also considers that it is necessary and beneficial for most settled people who are engaged in the provision of services to the Traveller and other minority communities to undergo some cultural awareness and anti-racism training and is willing to assist Clare County Council in arranging such training for staff in relevant departments in consultation with Traveller groups and other minorities in the County.

Clare PPN further notes that it requested (by email dated Wednesday 15th August 2018) two changes to this phase of Clare County Council’s consultation process and to date has not received a response from that request.

Clare PPN requested firstly that the process should be recommenced in September 2018 in order to take account of the August holiday period and to allow for a more substantial participation by the Travelling community and secondly that the notice of needs assessment should be separated from the call for submissions in relation to the preparation of a draft Traveller Accommodation Programme. Clare PPN requested that these separate aspects should be carried out in sequence rather than simultaneously- with Clare County Council’s accommodation needs assessment being made available to the LTACC and other interested bodies before the deadline for their submissions relating to the preparation of the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme.

Clare PPN regrets that the above request was not facilitated and notes that in the absence of LTACC meetings it was not possible to request the above changes except within this consultation process.

Context:

Clare PPN notes that since the current Traveller Accommodation Programme 2014- 2018 was adopted, that the Traveller Community have been recognised as an Ethnic Minority group. Clare PPN notes that in 2017 a report commissioned by the Department of Justice and Equality found that Travellers as a group experience extreme disadvantage in terms of employment, housing and health and face exceptionally strong levels of prejudice. Clare PPN considers that it is incumbent upon every state organisation to work positively and proactively to improve the experiences and outcomes for Travellers when they access the state services to which they are entitled. The National Strategy for Traveller and Roma Inclusion 2017 states the following

‘There should be adequate provision of accessible, suitable and culturally appropriate accommodation available for Travellers. Delivery of Traveller accommodation should be underpinned by a robust monitoring and evaluation framework, with a view to ensuring full expenditure of funds allocated for Traveller specific accommodation.’’

Clare PPN notes that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission reported earlier this year that whilst Travellers make up less than 1% of the population in Ireland they account for 9% of the numbers of those experiencing homelessness. https://www.ihrec.ie/discrimination-and-inequality-in-housing-in-ireland

Clare PPN notes from its communications with Travellers and Traveller organisations that they are optimistic and ambitious for the future of their community and believe that issues such as poor access to secure homes and low levels of employment can be improved significantly within the next decade if there is cooperation and lack of opposition from government and local authorities. Clare PPN notes that the Traveller population in Clare as detailed in the last Census (2016) stands at 905 individuals or 271 families as documented in the Annual Estimates of Accommodation of Traveller Families 2017. As Traveller unemployment as surveyed in 2010 stood at 82% and has not significantly decreased since then, it is clear that the provision of homes and other forms of culturally appropriate housing support for some members of the Traveller Community will, for the life of this draft plan 2019 – 2024, continue to be a function of the local authority or national government either directly or through approved housing bodies.

Clare PPN believes that it should be possible to provide secure culturally appropriate homes for the Traveller community in Clare which would help them greatly to achieve their ambitions to progress across all aspects of their lives from education, health including mental health, employment and community resilience. Clare PPN hopes that in the drafting of this Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024 that Clare County Council will demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that Clare is a place where the Travelling community are valued, respected and are able to improve their own circumstances with the assistance of their local authority.

Living Environment:

Clare PPN recommends that the new Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme would consider both accommodation and the wider living environment for Travellers when planning any new developments or when improving or maintaining existing ones. There should be access to services, transport, sufficient spaces for recreation and physical activity and attention paid to ensuring that Travellers have space to live in extended family groupings if they so wish and continue their hobbies, pastimes and trades as well as having access and opportunities to engage in the wider community and access education and employment. In order to address the severe disadvantage which Travellers experience it will be necessary to build secure sustainable culturally supportive living environments in which families, individuals and children can thrive.

Clare PPN wishes to have it noted that the new Traveller Accommodation Programme is being drafted in the context of a nation-wide housing ‘crisis’. It further notes that this is the first programme to be drafted since the introduction by the Department of Housing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and that there has to date been no analysis of how HAP has served the needs of those from minority communities including the Traveller community.  Clare PPN further notes that the provision of social housing by approved housing bodies has become a mainstay of social housing provision in County Clare and notes that according to reported figures as of 2017 only 4 Traveller families are listed as housed by approved housing bodies in the County.

Clare PPN recommendations for the assessment of existing and projected housing needs:

Clare PPN notes that work has been done this year on a peer to peer needs assessment in the county led Pavee Point and supported by the HSE’s Traveller Health Unit with assistance provided by Clare PPN and CLDC. Clare PPN recommends that if possible the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024 should be drafted in light of the findings of this needs assessment when it is complete and available.

Clare PPN also recommends that Clare County Council should make a concerted effort to ensure that the views and experiences in relation to accommodation of the Traveller community in Clare are canvassed before the completion of any assessment of existing and projected need.  Clare PPN notes the following two directions from the guidelines issued by the Department that indicate that this is within the scope and remit of Clare County Council to organise-

‘Additional inquiries as may be necessary, including consultation with Traveller families and any relevant Traveller support groups within the functional area of the authority, to ascertain a comprehensive picture of the existing and projected need for housing accommodation of Traveller families within their area for the period 2019 to 2024 to update their assessment of needs of Traveller families within their area.’

‘’For example, local authority officials may attend or arrange public meetings on Traveller issues and arrange broadly based ad-hoc area committees to address problems arising.’’

Clare PPN recommends that statistics on the following issues should be gathered from the Travelling Community and that policies to address the findings included in the draft programme:

  • Travellers experiencing over-crowding/forced sharing of accommodation.
  • Travellers experiencing homelessness and their experiences of accessing emergency accommodation including bed and breakfasts and hotels.
  • Travellers living in culturally inappropriate accommodation due to a lack of provision/poor standard of Traveller Specific Accommodation.
  • Travellers living in private rental accommodation which does not meet their needs or has not been inspected.
  • Travellers experiences of sourcing private rental accommodation under the current Housing Assistance Payment scheme.
  • The projected needs of young Travellers who may be likely to form new families during the life of the plan.
  • The particular accommodation needs of Travellers experiencing poor health and of people with disabilities within the Traveller Community.
  • The particular and projected needs of ageing Travellers in relation to accommodation.
  • Travellers in unofficial roadside accommodation should be surveyed for their preferences. Clare PPN notes that the guidelines for preparing the 5th Traveller Accommodation Programme include the following statement regarding unofficial or roadside sites:

‘Pending the provision of suitable permanent accommodation, local authorities should review the position of Travellers on the roadside or other unauthorised sites in their functional area in the light of the Guidelines on Basic Services and Facilities for Caravans and seek to improve the position of these families by considering making available such services, including water, toilets and waste removal if there are no significant legal, planning, environmental, social, technical or other restraints in so doing. The question of further closures of traditional or unofficial halting sites should also be reviewed pending the provision of adequate accommodation’.

Transient Sites– Following discussions with the Traveller representatives on the LTACC and with other advocacy groups Clare PPN strongly recommends that the provision of transient sites in Clare should be for the purposes of Travellers who are on the road and moving from place to place as is their tradition and that Transient sites should not be used as accommodation for Travellers who are ordinarily resident in County Clare.

Comments on the preparation of the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019- 2024.

Following the completion of a comprehensive assessment of existing and projected need by Clare County Council which is agreed between all stakeholders, Clare PPN calls on Clare County Council to draft a new Traveller Accommodation Programme that aims to fully meet all the identified needs.

Clare PPN calls on Clare County Council to zone and plan sufficient developments of all forms of Traveller Specific and general accommodation to meet Travellers’ needs and to immediately begin the process of applying for planning permission and funding for their completion. Clare PPN notes that throughout the current TAP Clare County Council had funding available to it specifically for Traveller Accommodation and that it failed to make full use of these funds. Clare PPN has noted the explanation that delays in planning processes are responsible for this repeated underspend and so calls on Clare County Council to ensure that following the completion of its agreed assessment that it should immediately commence the pre- construction processes for any developments planned and seek department funding for same. Clare PPN also calls on Clare County Council to ensure that its currently planned social housing developments do not change the designation of sites currently designated as Traveller Specific Accommodation without indicating how and where these will be replaced and seeking agreement from those affected.

Clare PPN further calls on Clare County Council to indicate in its Traveller Accommodation Programme whether it intends to continue its use of and funding of Approved Housing Bodies to provide social housing and if so how it intends to ensure that these bodies are resourced and required to provide accommodation to the Traveller Community and on what basis. Clare PPN would welcome a clear indication within the Traveller Accommodation Programme of which aspects of the programme it envisages being delivered by Approved Housing Bodies.

 

Clare PPN looks forward to continuing to engage in this process and welcomes any communications or queries in respect of this submission.