Cllr Philip McGlynn was last week elected for the second time as Mayor of Bundoran Town Council. But he is happier to be called Chairman or Cathaoirleach, as he believes the town never officially adopted the term. Now in his second term, he says that Bundoran should be proud of what it has achieved as a resort over the last decade and is now in a position to continue its investment in the town, largely due to its prudence in putting aside a few euro for the rainy day. He spoke to Michael McHugh about what he hoped to achieve over the next twelve months in his role, with the cloud of abolition facing local councils throughout the country.
“I would be terribly disappointed if Bundoran were to lose its status as a local council. What will happen is not in my hands. I only know that this council has two more years to run and we have a lot of work to do. We can show, more than any council on the country, that we have been able to achieve success. You can look around the town and see the advances it has made,” Cllr Philip McGlynn told the Democrat/DPP as he pondered on the future of a resort that has been able to make the most of its idyllic location down the years.
He was asked about the changed circumstances that he finds himself in now, both as a Chairman from four years ago, still feeding off a Celtic Tiger that later disappeared and the accusation that his party Fianna Fail was largely to blame for the predicament that the country found itself in now.
Bundoran Town Council, he is quick to answer is financially one of best run councils in the country because it was and is managed very well by its councillors, management and staff, even during the good times.
“When we were calculating our budget each year back then, we would have always put money aside for the rainy day. That rainy day has come and Bundoran Town council is financially stable and that leads me on to say that the programme of work that we have going on this year in Bundoran would be the envy of a lot of other councils.
“The simple reason that we can go and do this, is because we had put the money aside to do this. Our budget this year is €2.2m.”
Investments over the next twelve months included €180,000 on six houses on Drumacrin Road, by upgrading and extending them, putting in new windows and heating systems.
On the amenities side, he says that the West End walk will be extended to the town boundary at a cost of €250,000 and “that is money again that Bundoran Town Council has got themselves.”
He says that this money had also been put aside but would also include a small proportion of renewal grant money.
“When you look at the amount of housing out the West End now, it means that people living there will now be able to walk along the coast with a proper foot walk and proper lighting; this will be a huge plus for locals and people visiting the town and staying out the West End. It will bring a focus to that end of town, one that has often been missing in the past.”
He talks fondly of Waterworld, long serving servant of the Bundoran tourism industry, celebrating its 21st birthday this year. “It was the lifeline of Bundoran going back twenty years ago. The building was old and tired and in need of a total refit. The new investment of over a million euros will keep us up to a standard, there will be a new entrance, the seaweed baths will be completely updated. Waterworld itself will have six new slide facilities, so the people coming in and have been using the facility for years will see a completely new and welcome look.”
Serving for many years on the Waterworld Board, he says that it had traded profitably for much of that time, but with so many travelling abroad in recent times, like most facilities, it had been hit, particularly the last four years. That being said, the upside to all of this was that people were now coming back to Waterworld, as people are now beginning to holiday at home again. Even in the good times, lesser people were using it as they were going on foreign holidays, so the board had to have a long look at what they were doing and they quickly realised that an injection of money was required. Energy costs were huge, especially with the cost of oil were huge challenges, but this work now is something that has been planned for the past three years. Getting the funding together was quite hard at times but it’s now all together. The Town Council put up some money and that was match funded by Failte Ireland, so we can now look forward to a bigger and brighter Waterworld, come the season opening in 2013.
Philip sees the challenges and the rewards of tourism for Bundoran: “Over the years we have faced many different challenges in the tourist industry, which is the life and blood of this town, but we have always met challenges head on and I am very optimistic about the future.
“We have also worked hard to extend past the traditional season and now Bundoran has visitors for most months of the year and that helps in terms of employment and sustainability. We are working on a new festival the Lobster and Lettuce Festival, which is a modern take of the old Lobster Festival, which was hugely popular in the sixties. The equally popular Bundoran ‘Sea Sessions’ is now a nationally recognised brand and that has proved a huge benefit to the town, so we have been making progress to adopt to new situations that we find ourselves in as with the recent An Post Rás.”
A major new sewerage system waste water Bundoran sewerage scheme is on stream and will require an investment of €16million euro, part of a wider county scheme incorporating up to 25million euro. This will also ensure Bundoran’s waters are kept clean in the years ahead. “Sometimes it can be forgotten, but the sea is our biggest asset. When finished it will serve us well for decades to come and ensure that the integrity of the Bundoran environment is kept intact. Standards are now so much more exacting, so it is vital that job, which has been in the pipleline literally for the past five to six years. It’s a huge undertaking and we are now down to the tender pre qualifications. We would hope to be across the line on that front in about five months.”
The work will then take about a year and a half, but Philip says that it’s important that this will cause the minimum of inconvenience to the people of the town. Among others things and many Chairmanships ranging from Erne Enterprise to Magh Ene College, Philip is also Chairman of the Joint policing committee and he feels that this has been a great benefit in terms of liaising between the gardai and local administration. “It gives us both a platform to air our concerns and work constructively towards addressing local policing issues. He feels that Bundoran has a low crime rate overall and is well managed. He accepts that with the large influx of revellers during the summer months, public order issues are often evident, but he also says that they exist in all towns in the country. He said that like every other town, neither has Bundoran been immune from the scourge of drugs, but he was very pleased with the pro-active approach with gardai, especially the recent finds in Tullaghan and Laghey. Overall, he feels that his adopted home of Bundoran - now over 35 years in residence with wife Mary and son Philip John - is one that has always adopted to meet the needs of its visitors. “I am very proud to be associated with this town and its people. They are both charming and hard working.”