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County Council's alternative plan for boundary is rejected by City

August 21st, 2017 12:15 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

County Mayor Declan Hurley: ‘disappointed with response' from Council. (Photo: John Allen)

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CORK County Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley has said that it is disappointing that proposals made by Cork County Council in relation to city boundary changes were not properly assessed and considered by their city counterparts.

‘Cork County Council submitted a very generous proposal to Cork City Council which would see the geographic area of Cork city increase in size by 85%, thereby allowing Cork city's population to increase by 39,000, with the capacity of the city population to grow to 283,000 over time,' said Cllr Hurley.

‘While we await a formal response to our proposals, we are disappointed by the obvious lack of adequate assessment and consideration of the proposal,' he said.

Cork County Council submitted a proposal for a significant extension to the Cork City Council area of jurisdiction in recent weeks which did not include the areas of Blarney, Carrigtwohill, Little Island, Glounthaune, Ballincollig, Killumney, Ovens and Tower.

This additional area, coupled with the potential for major growth within the existing city through regeneration of key development areas of Docklands South and North, Mahon, Blackpool, Tramore Road/ Kinsale Road and Tivoli, would provide for core urban city form growth up to a potential population in excess of 283,000, together with potential additional jobs growth of over 50,000 within the city. 

The proposed extension immediately represents a transfer of commercial rates and local property tax (LPT) with a value of over €16m.

At a meeting of Cork City Council on Monday, councillors rejected the boundary extension proposal by Cork County Council, which would see it cede less land than was proposed in the MacKinnon Report.

City Council chief executive Anne Doherty said that the County Council proposal cannot be interpreted other than to run contrary to the proposed substantial boundary changes set out in the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group, as accepted by the Minister.

‘To express a willingness to entertain such a proposal would effectively accede to the re-writing of the report of the Expert Advisory Group, something that the oversight group has indicated will not be entertained. 

‘Also, it would serve only to deflect focus and thwart progress in bringing conclusion to the review process of local government arrangements in Cork,' said Ms Doherty.

Mr Doherty also reminded members that it has consistently been the position of Cork City Council that the city boundary required a substantial extension to accommodate the expansion of the State's second largest urban area to nearly 500,000 over the coming decades.

‘The recent proposal from Cork County Council subverts this position by offering a minimalist boundary extension.'

However, Cllr Hurley emphasised that Cork County Council had invested considerable time and effort in identifying a practical way forward, but regrettably its outreach initiative had not been responded to in kind. He noted that the City Council objected to the statutory Smiddy report, and that now the city has also rejected this better and more sensible solution put forward by the County.

‘The elected members of Cork County Council are unanimous in their support for this offering and we believe that it represents a great opportunity to achieve a successful outcome for this issue and for Cork as a whole,' added Cllr Hurley.

Cork County Council has formally sought clarification from Minister Eoghan Murphy on the scope and remit of the Implementation Group charged with implementing the MacKinnon Report.

According to Cllr Hurley, ‘its workings appear to run contrary to all commentary to date which emphasised that both the City and County should seek agreement on the matter.'

Cllr Hurley added that the County is only participating in the workings of the Implementation Group on a ‘without prejudice' basis.

‘We have been very clear in advising the Implementation Group that we will not be in a position to submit any boundary line as an agreed proposition until such time as proper discussion and consideration has been undertaken by both Councils on the matter. Notwithstanding that, we will continue to work with the Implementation Group on defining the issues that would need to be addressed for implementation of any boundary change. This work is merited, as we are happy to accede to a boundary adjustment that makes sense and that can be agreed,' added Cllr Hurley.

Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald reiterated that the MacKinnon report has been accepted by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, who set up an oversight group to oversee its implementation and that it cannot be re-written.‘If we agree to a more limited boundary extension, Cork City could go from being the second city in this country to possibly third or fourth tier status. As it stands, Belfast is defined as a global city. Cork isn't. If we agree to a more limited boundary extension, Cork would end up one sixth smaller in size than Belfast is now. This short-sightedness on our behalf would seriously undermine the wider Cork region's capacity to compete globally and to attract investment jobs,' he said.

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