Leader launches debate on 2020 vision

What’s your vision for Kilkenny in 2020? Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) is starting its consultation process on the local development options that need to occur if our County and City is to become a better place to live, visit and do business.

What’s your vision for Kilkenny in 2020? Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) is starting its consultation process on the local development options that need to occur if our County and City is to become a better place to live, visit and do business.

KLP is starting to plan for the years to 2020, and as its CEO, Declan Rice states, “Starting next Thursday the 25th in Hotel Kilkenny, we want 
the contributions of the communities and small businesses of County Kilkenny on how they view the important developments in all sectors that will affect the quality of life. That includes the economic, social, cultural, environmental and technological sectors”.

KLP is interested in hearing from businesses and communities on their thoughts on development and also in discussing some of its own ideas of where the county needs to take charge of its own destiny. The Company which operates the LEADER, and a variety of social inclusion and development programmes, sees a need for more pro-active planning right across the development spectrum, from tourism, IT infrastructure, enterprise support and community facilities. Irrespective of the programmes it operates, KLP is committed to the ‘LEADER Philosophy’ of so-called bottom-up local development. This is where local communities and businesses take the lead in developing aspects of their areas.

Declan clarifies the difference of the Kilkenny 2020 Vision consultation and the local authority local area planning process. “This is different to the statutory local area planning process, which occurs every few years. That’s a very important process but it has its constraints and limit in focusing on structural development of a certain type. The 2020 Vision is more broad and has a wider strategic view.” The KLP CEO confirmed, “KLP is a community-based non-profit company- not a statutory body. We have a different role to the County Council, but we work very closely and well with the local authorities on both processes and a host of shared project initiatives”.

Taking the topical case of poor broadband coverage in rural areas as an example of where local people need to be seen to be planning and even ‘doing it for themselves’. “In a week when the Department of Communications have rowed back on their national rural broadband plans to install a minimum standard of the vital IT infrastructure in Rural Ireland, we think that the rural and urban Kilkenny should look at how it can help government top-down plans with some ‘bottom-up’ initiatives,” suggests KLP’s CEO. “And that applies to a lot of other sector too, such as rural tourism, the direction of enterprise and employment policy, etc. We need more local involvement, if rural Ireland- and that includes both Kilkenny City and county is to prosper”

KLP acknowledge that there is no magic solution to some of these problems, but are sure a local input is vital to any resolution. “We don’t know what exactly our role in large-scale development is, but we believe that communities cannot rely on the state to meet all our needs and wishes. The Ireland outside the big cities invariably suffers when resources are scarcer- so if we want to have a better quality of life in Kilkenny, we probably need to look at what we can do to improve it ourselves.”

The next round of LEADER and other programme funding will be open for design in the coming months, KLP wants to know what its communities and businesses want it to focus on.

So, if you have a view of how the county should develop, KLP invites you to come along to its first consultation meeting on Thursday, 25th July at 7:30 pm in Hotel Kilkenny- or join the debate on its Facebook and Twitter campaigns.