Exclusive: Read The Complaint Issued To The Ombudsman Over Courtown Woods Sale

Just recently, we published a story about how a Courtown community group has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman…

The woods was recently sold as part of a deal with the Courtown Leisure Centre.

327k euro was raised following the liquidation of Courtown Leisure Centre.

Last May, over 10,000 people signed a petition to keep Courtown Leisure Centre and Courtown Woods in public ownership, however, the woods have been sold.

A complaint has been lodged by the Courtown County Council following the sale of the Courtown woods.

The full complaint has been sent to Wexford Weekly. Read the contents of full complaint below which was sent on October 4th, 2021:

To Whom it may Concern:

We the members of Courtown Community Council on behalf of the people of Courtown/Riverchapel would like to register a complaint against Wexford County Council regarding the Liquidation and sale of Gorey Courtown Forest Park Company Limited by Guarantee and Courtown Waterworld Limited.

Our complaint is that the woods have been enjoyed by the people of Courtown and surrounding areas since 1907 and should remain a public amenity for the enjoyment and wellbeing of the community. Whilst Wexford County Council have given assurances to the people by noting the section 38 sterilization agreement on developing the remaining 40 acres which is now woodland walks.  However new details have come to light in an application by Wexford County Council to the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme 2021- Bord Failte, to build a path routed through Courtown Woods, a protected Natural Heritage Area Courtown Dunes and Glen site code 000757.  This project also includes the installation of a high-level modern design footbridge to cross the glen adjacent to the existing Ballinatray masonry arched road bridge.  This application states the footpath could go through the woods at 2-3 metres wide with floodlights also installed.  This project could be subject to a CPO order.  Our question/complaint then is how are the people of the area been given assurances by the Chief Executive Tom Enright and the Acting Director of Services Amanda Byrne on the safe guarding of the woods and the wildlife and flora when in the background Wexford County Council are applying for funding for footpaths and flood lights to be installed in the Woods.

During the liquidation process Wexford County Council became a creditor of the above named companies, and out of that process a sum of €372,134.81 was offered to Wexford County Council by the liquidators Conor Noone and Neil Hughes of Baker Tilly.

At the most recent meeting of Gorey/Kilmuckridge Municipal District Meeting, Chief Executive Tom Enright explained that the council had invested over €500,000 into Courtown Waterworld Ltd over the years but, following its closure, has been offered the above amount (€372,134.81).  He went on to say “The choice now was to decide whether to take this offer and if so what to spend it on.”  He continued “I believe it’s incumbent on the council to put the money from the liquidation process back into Courtown.  I believe we should continue drawing down the €30,000 a year to be paid out of the budget each year and make €372K available to Courtown.  He proceeded to acknowledge that people in the area called on the council to protect the woods for the people and step in and purchase the woodland area for the people.

The Chief Executive Tom Enright then put it to the meeting that the sum received be used to complete a project which has long since been mooted in the district, that you consider using the €372K to complete the footpath from Gorey.  During this exchange Councillor Joe Sullivan quoted “we sold a wood to put a footpath in Gorey….”  Councillor O Suilleabháin referenced a previous meeting that a vote was taken by councillors which he thought had secured the future of the woods “The money should be used to buy the woods that was the original assumption”.  This was backed up by Cllr Sullivan “there was a vote taken on it and a motion brought that the woods be kee itt in public ownership  (information taken from Gorey Guardian September 20th 2021 Headline – Funds received from liquidators will be used to develop long-awaiting Courtown to Gorey Footpath.

Our complaint/concern here is that firstly, the item of Discussing the Future of Courtown Woods was not listed on any agenda prior to the meeting. The item was discussed in chamber and subsequently brought up again under AOB. A vote was taken too quickly on such a divided topic and with no input from the community. Our concern here, is that votes taken in this manner mean little or nothing as they can be forgotten or changed in the blink of an eye without due diligence.”

It comes just days after video plans for a new luxury hotel in Courtown, which sees a completely new revamp of the sea-side village, released to the public.

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