Monthly Archives: June 2013
14 June 2013
I am writing to you to enlighten your readers about the process we have been involved in and our efforts to receive the title for the Metalman and pillars on Brownstown & Newtown Heads from the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL). Our mission was simply to preserve and protect them and to develop a cliff walk to the Metalman from Newtown Cove as part of an overall Heritage Trail to establish a world class tourist attraction and public amenity for the people of Tramore. There has been much public debate surrounding the Metalman issue recently, but many of the points raised by our opposition have been misleading, self serving and scaremongering in a deliberate and serious campaign to scupper our efforts.
BACKGROUND – Tramore Tourism has been working on this project since 2009 when we were encouraged to do so by our members, Failte Ireland, the CIL and Waterford County Council and other community groups only after the local authority had declined to accept them from the CIL who have been keen to dispose of them for some time.
- We were informed that the local authority does not have the funding or resources in this current climate to make this happen, as budgets, staff and services continue to see further cuts.
- We have spent thousands of hours of our own time planning this project and meeting with all relevant stakeholders including many representatives from Failte Ireland, the conservation and heritage officers, town and county managers, tourism officers, engineers, grant awarding bodies, and other community groups.
- We have been negotiating with the landowners for a workable solution to the access problem which has prevented public access to the Metalman for many years.
- There is no legal public right of way, and the council has not been willing to initiate a CPO for the needed walkway.
THE NECCESSARY LEGAL STRUCTURE – We set up Tramore Heritage Limited as the legal entity to receive the pillars, attain access and to seek funding for the development and maintenance of a heritage trail through Tramore.
- It was set up as a non-profit company, we were applying for charitable status and we invited the town council to nominate representatives to also become directors.
- Contrary to false statements, this was a “Public” not a “Private” company limited by guarantee without shareholders or equity owners. No directors could have received profits in any form from the ownership of the Pillars or Metalman.
- The use of a non-profit community owned company is recognised as best practice throughout the country as it creates a legal entity that can be held responsible for its actions and it is a requirement by most grant awarding bodies.
- We also enlisted a broad variety of individuals with various backgrounds and abilities for the project team as well as a professional team of consultants who were advising us.
- Most Importantly, should this company have failed in any way there was no risk to the pillars as it was enshrined in the company structure that in such circumstances the assets of the company must go to another company of a similar structure.
THE METALMAN AND PILLARS – The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) supported our proposal as it is similar to many other projects throughout Ireland where local tourism bodies are deemed to be the most suitable groups to embrace these now obsolete structures and turn them into a sustainable tourist attraction that would have redefined Tramore and ensured their long term care.
- Tramore Tourism could have obtained funding through the Failte Ireland tourism Infrastructure Development Plan. Heritage tourism is the backbone of attracting visitors to our shores, and Tramore is seriously lacking in this area despite our wealth of natural, built and maritime history.
- We have also been successful in the past two years in accessing LEADER funding for marketing and community projects and they were also keen to advance this project.
- We had very broad support for this project including many pledges of financial support from individuals and the business community who see this as the way forward.
- The Metalman and the pillars do not currently belong to the town council, county council, OPW, or people of Tramore as they are the private property of the Commissioners of Irish Lights and are located on private property.
- The Pillars are protected structures and cannot be modified, changed or sold by any group.
- We were working on a formal plan for the maintenance and preservation of the pillars in conjunction with the county heritage and conservation officers and all necessary funding for maintenance and the development of the heritage trail could have been raised.
FRIENDS OF THE METALMAN – We initiated a “friends of the Metalman” campaign on Facebook earlier this year to invite every person in the area to become a part of this project to develope our shared history and bolster our sense of local pride.
- A unified voice would have certainly found even broader support from the new unified local authority next year and it would have fit in nicely with other heritage initiatives in region.
- This was a great chance for these iconic pillars to come back to the people of Tramore and to help Tramore’s flagging tourism industry. These pillars are very much a part of Tramore’s past and can also be a huge part of its future if they are made accessible.
- We gave a presentation to the Town Council earlier this year and invited our elected representatives to support this project and to use their energy and influence as councillors to help us resolve the real obstacle which is access.
- Our objectors have taken apparent joy in creating divisions within the town instead of rowing in to make it a success and the public campaign of misinformation has only demonstrated that we are not all working together to create a better tourist product or brighter future for Tramore.
- There is currently no alternative proposal for the Metalman at this time. We had clearly stated objectives and a clear plan for a potentially game changing development for Tramore.
IN CONCLUSION – While there have been many supporters for the plan to maximise the Metalman‘s tourism potential for the good of the community, there has been a very vocal minority of vociferous and at times aggressive objections, which has scuppered the sensitive negotiations underway for access to the pillars and generated negative emotions towards our plans to help regenerate Tramore’s tourist numbers. Although all the directors are or have been business owners/managers in Tramore, their capacity in Tramore Tourism and as directors of Tramore Heritage Ltd. was and is on a voluntary capacity with a genuine concern for Tramore’s current difficult situation. This altruism has been misrepresented as a desire for personal gain, which is absolutely not the case. As volunteers with our own professional and private lives to lead, we have come to the tough decision in the face of often scathing attacks, to no longer seek custodial ownership of the Metalman and pillars or seek to negotiate any access to same and therefore confirm that the seven directors have initiated the voluntary dissolution of TRAMORE HERITAGE LTD. that was set up for this purpose.
- We wish the county council well in its future efforts to resolve the access issue and develop this project and to that end we will make available any of the work that we have completed to date.
- Tramore Tourism will continue to work on establishing a bespoke heritage trail in Tramore in conjunction with the relevant stakeholders as well as our efforts to increase visitor numbers and to raise Tramore’s profile.
- We have succeeded in bringing this issue into the public domain and we sincerely hope that another viable plan to bring us closer to the pillars can be developed in the not so distant future.
- We would like to thank all those who helped and encouraged us, those professional people who gave of their own time to this project, and the landowners who put up with our multiple visitations in trying to resolve the access issues.
Thanking you on behalf of Tramore Heritage Ltd.
Avery Coryell Paul Jackman
Dermot Doyle Shane Dooley
Irene Treacy Billy Butler