BY JACKIE KEOGH
CORK County Council is considering a legal challenge to Cork City’s proposed boundary extension.
After examining all of the options, Cork County Council’s opening gambit is to submit a new boundary proposal to Cork City Council for consideration.
This proposal carries the weight of a statutory proposal – which means the City Council is obliged to formally consider it – because it is being made under the Section 29 of the Local Government Act 1991.
It follows a proposal which was put forward by the County in recent weeks, but which the City councillors refused to debate.
The new proposal requests a public consultation process that would allow all stakeholders – including members of the public – to have their say.
It is envisaged that the public will have a six or eight-week period in which to make their submissions and that Cork City Council will have six months in which to make its response.
The move is designed to strengthen the County Council’s hand should the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, unilaterally decide to press ahead with the Mackinnon Report.
This week, County Mayor Declan Hurley (Ind) told The Southern Star that Cork County Council has also decided to seek immediate legal advice with regard to the options available to it, should the minister force through a boundary, similar to that proposed in the Mackinnon report.
The Mackinnon-suggested boundary includes Carrigtowhill, Blarney, Tower, Monard, Ballincollig, Ovens, Airport, Douglas, Little Island, Togher, Frankfield, Grange, Glanmire and Rochestown.
Under the terms of the Mackinnon report, €40m-€50m compensation would be paid to Cork County Council every year, for ten years. But now members of Cork County Council have expressed concern over the ability of the City Council to honour this commitment.
Cork County Council made a counter proposal – offering additional areas such as Ballyvolane, Kilcully, Carhoo and Kilbarry on the north side and Doughcloyne, Frankfield, Donnybrook, Grange, Douglas, Castletreasure and Ardrostig on the south side – but this was rejected by the City Council in August.
It is understood that members of Cork County Council were encouraged to consider adding areas such as Glanmire, but this was rejected by the County councillors at a meeting in County Hall last Monday – a meeting that took four hours and was held behind closed doors.
Cork County Council is opposing the Mackinnon report on the basis that it would lose an estimated €50m a year in revenue from rates and local property taxes and also cede areas of high development potential.
On Tuesday afternoon, there was another meeting to discuss the proposed boundary expansion – this time with the Cork Local Government Implementation Oversight Group, together with representatives of Cork City and County councils.
At that meeting, Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey informed the Cork Local Government Implementation Oversight Group that Cork County Council is not accepting the Mackinnon report.
Mr Lucey said the County Council engaged with the group on a ‘without prejudice’ basis, but demonstrated its commitment to a boundary review process by presenting the group with a copy of the County Council’s original boundary proposal from August.
Mayor Hurley said later: ‘Cork County Council is unanimous in its view that the lack of public consultation and engagement with communities up until this point has been deplorable … there has been no response whatsoever from the Minister in relation to the Council’s queries in relation to the role and remit of the Implementation Oversight Group.’
The mayor said: ‘We have a duty to represent the interests of people from across all of Co Cork – from Castletownbere to Youghal, from Charleville to Carrigaline, and all areas in between. Common sense must prevail.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said: ‘The process heretofore has been flawed because there has been no public consultation process, and Cork County Council is seeking to remedy that by invoking Section 49.’
• The above map of the current and proposed boundaries was provided by Cork City Council.