County Waterford in Context
County Waterford is located in the South East of Ireland. The administrative area of Waterford County Council is 181,300ha. The County shares administrative boundaries with County Cork to the West, South Tipperary to the North and Waterford City to the East.
County Waterford has an extensive coastline, stretching from the estuary of the River Suir in the East to Youghal Harbour in the West. There are 49 beaches, which include important tourist resorts. There are also a number of natural harbours in the County, the largest of which is Waterford Harbour, with others in Helvick, Dunmore East and Dungarvan. Other physical features of the County include the Rivers Suir, Blackwater, Mahon, Bride and Colligan, the impressive Comeragh, Knockmealdown and Monavullagh Mountain Ranges and the unspoiled Nire Valley, which runs deep into the heart of the Comeragh Mountains. The Gaeltacht Area of An Rinn/Old Parish, is a flourishing Irish Centre with its own particular heritage and culture.
There is significant economic activity in the County. The range of retail and other local services in the key towns and villages has expanded considerably over recent years. In 2005 disposable income of residents of County Waterford was estimated to be €1.1billion. In addition, the County is home to key profile employers such as GSK, Citi-Bank, Pinewood Laboratories, Lancaster Laboratories, Radley Engineering, Glanbia Shared Services, Flahavans Mills and Cappoquin Poultry. These companies operate in strong clusters in pharmaceutical, engineering and food within the South of Ireland. Target sectors include pharmaceuticals, international business services, ICT, engineering, innovation and entrepreneurship, local services food and agri-business, tourism, construction and agriculture. The Councils’ key objective is to generate value added activities that will sustain meaningful jobs locally.
Population & Towns
In 2006, the population of County Waterford was 62,213. This represented an increase of 9.2% since 2002, which was above the national average population growth of 8.1%. This illustrates the relative attractiveness of County Waterford as a place to live and work.
With a population of 8,362 Dungarvan is the County Town and administrative capital of County Waterford. Dungarvan, a picturesque, vibrant town, serves a 30 minute catchment population of 46,000. It is estimated that over 500,000 people live within one hour of Dungarvan.
In the east of the County the main town is the seaside town Tramore, with a population in 2006 of 9,634. The population of Tramore is growing at a faster rate than the national or regional averages, illustrating the popularity of the Town as a place to live and the influence of the Waterford City on the Town.
The key towns and villages in County Waterford are presented below.
Waterford County Local Authorities
Waterford County Local Authorities comprises four Councils:
- Waterford County Council: 23 members representing four electoral divisions of Comeragh, Dungarvan, Lismore and Tramore.
- Dungarvan Town Council: 9 members representing the administrative area of Dungarvan Town.
- Lismore Town Council: 9 members representing the administrative area of Lismore Town.
- Tramore Town Council: 9 members representing the administrative area of Tramore Town.
Waterford County Council’s remit covers provision of social and affordable housing, development and maintenance of the County’s road network, provision of water and sewerage services, waste management, environmental protection, proper planning and sustainable development of the County, promotion of economic, social and community development and provision of emergency services. Dungarvan Town Council is a rating authority in its own right and adopts a separate budget for the direct provision of services within Dungarvan town.
Corporate Policy Group
The County Mayor and five Chairs of the Strategic Policy Committees form the Corporate Policy Group, which assists and advises the full Council in a range of areas, with specific reference to Budgets and Performance Management.
Strategic Policy Committees
Strategic Policy Committees are the basic groups that formulate policy for consideration by the full Council in the following areas:
- Environment & Planning
- Transport & Infrastructure
- Housing, Corporate & Emergency Services
- Economic Development & Community Services
- Cultural & Heritage
Membership is comprised of elected members of Waterford County Council, Dungarvan, Tramore and Lismore Town Councils, together with representatives from the following sectors:
- Environmental Conservation/Culture
- Trade Union
Each of the 4 Electoral Areas has an Area Committee, comprised of the Councillors for the area and representatives of Community Groups affiliated to the County Community Forum. These meet quarterly and deal mainly with operational matters pertaining to the particular area.
Waterford County Development Board
Waterford County Development Board, which is administered by the Community & Enterprise Directorate of Waterford County Council is made up of representatives of Waterford County Council, the Dungarvan, Lismore and Tramore Town Councils, the Development Agencies and the Representative Groups. The County Development Board is implementing a Social, Cultural and Economic Strategy for the County.
The Community Forum
Waterford County Community Forum is made up of representatives of 252 Community Groups. The Community Forum is represented on the Strategic Policy Committees and the Area Committees along with a range of Development Agencies in the County.
Executive Structure - Management Team:
The Management Team consists of the County Manager, four Directors of Service and a Head of Finance. The Directors of Services administer the following areas;
- Housing, Corporate Services and Emergency Services
- Transport and Infrastructure
- Planning and Environment
- Community and Economic Development
The Council’s workforce comprises in excess of 500 full and part-time employees and operates under the control of Ray O’Dwyer, County Manager. Dungarvan Town Council is an employer in its own right with a workforce comprising some 50 full and part-time employees.
The County’s infrastructure is as follows:
- Civic Offices - Dungarvan, Tramore, Lismore, Kilmacthomas
- Libraries - Lismore, Dungarvan, Tramore, Cappoquin, Tallow, Dunmore East, Kilmacthomas, Portlaw, Clashmore, Bonmahon
- Courthouses - Dungarvan, Lismore
- Theatres/Art Centres - Lismore, Dungarvan & Tramore
- Playgrounds - Dungarvan (2), Tramore, Lismore, Tallow, Cappoquin, Passage East, Ardmore, Portlaw, Dunmore East, Clashmore & Bonmahon
- Skateboard Park - Tramore
- Housing Stock - 1,602
- Roads Network - 68.09 kms of National Primary Roads, 36.33 kms of National Secondary Roads, 382.46 kms of Regional Roads & 2,035.31 kms of Local Roads
- Water Supply Schemes - 104
- Waste Water Schemes - 78
- Civic Amenity Sites - Dungarvan
- Materials Recovery Facility - Dungarvan
- Fire Stations - Dungarvan, Tramore, Cappoquin, Tallow, Lismore, Dunmore East, Kilmacthomas, Portlaw, Ardmore
Dungarvan Civic Offices Tramore Civic Offices
The following are examples of initiatives which have been undertaken in recent years to enhance the quality of life for citizens and to promote the County as a business location:
1. E-government & Smart Economy
- Deployment of wireless & wired broadband links to all of Area Offices & Libraries;
- Enhanced and expanded Web sites, online bill pay and online information services;
- Expanded use of GIS; and
- Facilitation of Broadband Development throughout the County.
2. Environmental Services
- Completion of Dungarvan & Environs and Tramore Sewerage Schemes;
- Commencement of the Grouped Villages Sewerage Scheme;
- Construction and operation of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Dungarvan
- Development of Constructed Wetlands at 8 locations throughout the County; and
- Duplication of the capacity of the East Waterford Water Supply Scheme.
3. Economic Development & Job Creation
- Zoning of strategic sites and industrial sites in Dungarvan, Tramore, Carrick-on-Suir, and Waterford Gateway;
- Enhanced co-operation with the agencies to stimulate job creation;
- Development of a network of Community Enterprise Centres in Carriganore, Dunhill, Tallow, Cappoquin, Dungarvan and An Rinn;
- Launch of the Invest in Waterford/Work In Waterford Websites; and
- Direct operation of events/festivals such as the Sean Kelly Tour, John Treacy Classic, Dungarvan Festival of Food; and
- Construction of N25 re-alignment at Pilltown;
- Construction of re-alignment at Airport Road; and
- Construction of Clonea Road re-alignment;
5. Environment & Sustainable Development
- Provision of Social and Affordable Housing throughout the County;
- Adoption of an Integrated Rural Tourism Policy;
- Review of the County Retail Strategy to arrest retail leakage;
- Adoption of a Climate Change Strategy for the Council; and
- Adoption of Biodiversity Action Plan and Heritage Plan for the County.
6. Human Resources and Operational Excellence
- FÁS Excellence Through People Gold Standard Award;
- International B.E. Empowered Award of Excellence for Civil Engineering in 2006;
- Engineers Ireland Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation; and
- Engineers Ireland Company of the Year Award for 2008;
Social Inclusion and Community Development
The Council is committed to working with local communities, to promote social inclusion and to consult with the citizens of the county regarding service delivery. Following a consultative approach, the following have been achieved;
- 252 community groups affiliated to the County Community Forum;
- Social Inclusion Action Plan in place, managed by an inter-agency Social Inclusion Measures Working Group;
- Community groups supported by the Local Authorities ongoing success in competitions such as Tidy Towns, Pride of Place and Entente Florale;
- Provision of public theatres in Dungarvan and Lismore and development of an Arts venue at the old Coastguard Station in Tramore; and
- Programme of works undertaken to improve access for people with disabilities in town centres, public buildings and amenity areas throughout the County, including beaches, parks and playgrounds.
- Development of the Presentation Convent Community Development Centre as a one-stop-shop, providing a range of community and voluntary services including; daycare, community based childcare, services for persons with disabilities, citizens advice and offices for Focus Ireland and the HSE.
Waterford County Local Authorities provide a range of services to residents and businesses throughout County Waterford. Waterford County Council understands that meeting the needs of the customers is paramount. In 2009 a customer survey was undertaken. This involved surveying members of the public, elected representatives, in-depth interviews with businesses and a staff survey. The survey found that 77% of customers interviewed rated Waterford County Council’s customer service as ‘above average’. This outcome was indicative of a positive public perception of the professionalism and responsiveness of the Local Authority.
However, as with every organization, the survey also identified areas for improvement, particularly in relation to services to businesses. The Council has responded to the findings of the survey and the identified needs of the customer by;
- Establishing a dedicated Customer Care Counter in the Civic Offices in Dungarvan where public queries can be dealt with at first point of contact; and
- Expanding the functions of the Council’s Business Support Unit to provide support for businesses in their dealings with the range of services and regulatory requirements implemented by the Local Authorities.
This Corporate Plan has been informed by the findings of the Customer Survey and Waterford County Local Authorities will continue to use customer feedback as a measure of performance and as a basis for improving customer service, going forward. Statistical data indicates that almost 800 items per month are being logged with the Customer Relations Management (CRM) database at the Customer Care Counter, indicative of the popularity of the facility, since its introduction.
Waterford County Council continues to operate a formal Customer Complaints Procedure on behalf of the County’s Local Authorities. Procedures in place ensure that complaints are investigated and dealt with fairly and impartially. Customers are advised of the right to seek independent review by the Ombudsman if the outcome of a complaint is not satisfactory.
Waterford County Local Authorities are committed to ensuring that the ‘12 Principles of Quality Customer Service for Customers and Clients of the Public Service’ continue to be implemented. The Councils’ well-publicised Customer Charter sets out the service levels which customers can expect from the Local Authorities.
At the time of publication of this Corporate Plan, Ireland has emerged from a prolonged period of unprecedented economic growth. This has enabled Waterford County Local Authorities to invest considerably in the infrastructure and improve the range and delivery of services in the County over the last ten years. However, Ireland is in the midst of a significant recession. This has been influenced by a global economic downturn. County Waterford, in tandem with the rest of Ireland, has witnessed a reduction in activity in most sectors, but significantly in the retail and construction sectors. By September 2009 the national unemployment rate was 12.6%, an increase from 7.1% since September 2008.
The economic slowdown has significantly impacted on the income of Waterford County Council, with reductions in revenues from rates and development levies. The Local Government Fund has reduced by 10% in the period 2008-2009, with a 14% reduction in staff numbers over the same period. Allocations for local road maintenance have reduced by 27% and allocations for regional road maintenance have reduced by 53%. Indications are that funding and staff levels will continue to decline in the short to medium term and this will significantly impact on the Local Authorities’ capacity to deliver services.
According to a number of sources, including the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance, Ireland’s economy is expected to recover in late 2010 with growth anticipated for 2011.
In light of the operating context of fluctuating economic performance, it will be important for Waterford County Local Authorities to adopt an innovative, flexible and agile approach to the delivery of services during the period of the Corporate Plan.
The functions of Waterford County Local Authorities are vast and diverse and contribute considerably to the quality of life of the residents and local communities thought the County. Waterford County Local Authorities seek to deliver these functions efficiently and effectively in a manner that optimises value for money.
This Corporate Plan presents the key priorities for Waterford County Local Authorities for the period 2010 – 2014;
- Economic Development and Job Creation;
- Environmental Sustainability;
- e-Government and Smart Economy; and
- Operational and Staff Excellence;
Implementation & Delivery
Implementation of the Corporate Plan will require clear strategic direction, political leadership and well trained and motivated staff. A Partnership approach between Elected Members and staff is a vital element in delivery of the identified key goals. Equally important are the partnerships which exist and which will be fostered between the Local Authorities and the local communities.
The implementation of this ambitious plan is necessary to ensure that the County is poised to take advantage of growth, once the current economic downturn has bottomed out and more favourable conditions prevail.
The relationships required to deliver the plan are illustrated below.