THE rather unseemly war of words that continues to rage sporadically between city and county councillors about the extension of the Cork city boundary into the county area is not doing anything to solve the impasse that exists between the two councils about the amount of land that should be ceded. This impasse looks set to continue, at least until the end of the year, as Cork County Council recently initiated a two-month consultation period, which will last until mid-November, in order to afford the people of Cork the opportunity to have their say on the matter, which has potentially serious implications.
The consultation is about what the County Council regards as its perfectly reasonable offer to cede city suburbs that are in the county area to the City Council, including Ballyvolane, Douglas, Grange, Rochestown and Togher, which would almost double the size of the city from 38 to 70 square kilometres and see its current population increasing immediately by 32%, resulting in Cork City constituting almost two-thirds of the size of Dublin City Council’s area and reflecting its status as the second city in the State. County Mayor Declan Hurley is encouraging members of the public, communities and businesses to have their say in the shaping of their futures in the context of this important issue.
Members of Cork City Council – who want the full amount of extra territory recommended to be transferred by the Mackinnon Report on future arrangements for local government in Cork city and county, including places as far afield as Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Glounthaune, Little Island and Carrigtwohill – are angry with the effective kick for touch that the County Council’s public consultation process is, especially as they had already rejected the boundary alteration proposal put forward under Section 29 of the Local Government Act 1991, which only offered them the city suburbs in the county area.
The proposal document is available to view on the County Council’s website www.corkcoco.ie with copies on display at County Hall, Cork; county branch libraries and municipal district and area offices. Submissions may be made online or by post to Office of Director of Corporate Services, Cork County Council, Floor 14, County Hall, Cork, to be received no later than Friday, November 17th.
The public consultation is welcome because a number of the County Council meetings about the matter in recent weeks have been held behind closed doors, only allowing the press in afterwards just to hear what had been decided without knowing the arguments for and against that were made to inform these decisions. Such an important issue needs to be debated in a public forum and the consultation process should open up the debate more.
However, we trust that the submissions made during the public consultation period will be discussed and debated in open meetings of Cork County Council, so that the will of the people can be seen to be done in a transparent and accountable manner by their elected representatives. To do otherwise would be to entirely defeat the purpose.