CORK County Council is being short-changed on a grand scale, according to an independent report, which shows serious under-funding under several headings.
And now councillors are seeking meetings with the county’s TDs to voice their anger at the lack of funding for Ireland’s largest county.
The report also shows that it will take 52 years to strengthen the county’s entire road network despite an Engineers’ Ireland recommendation that each road should be done once every 20 years.
Last year, Cork County Council commissioned researchers in Maynooth University to analyse government funding programmes to local authorities.
The findings – revealed at a meeting this week – stated that the Council should, in geographical and population terms, be receiving the highest, or second highest, allocation in the country, but is performing poorly in terms of several schemes, including the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF), the Local Improvement Scheme, Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme, and the Clár programme. The report shows that Cork’s RRDF payment per head of population is €15.20, compared to the most successful county – Clare – which receives €73.83. It revealed Cork has the fourth lowest Leader allocation – at €42 per capita.
Cork county, which has the highest Clár population of any local authority, has the lowest Clár per capita allocation, despite the fact that the programme is designed to offset rural disadvantage.
Niall Healy, director of services for municipal district operations and rural development, said the report results were ‘disappointing’.
The report shows that West Cork is the largest Municipal District in the country and has the fifth longest road network.
Mr Healy said it would take 52 years to strengthen the county’s entire road network.
‘Those examples have led to a backlog and build-up of work and needs, which current funding schemes don’t allow us to meet,’ he said.
The National Roads Management Office has estimated the cumulative cost of bringing the county’s roads up to standard at €750m.
One immediate call to action was to request that ‘hard copies’ of the report be presented to every TD and government department, as well as senior civil servants.
The report dealt specifically with funding streams, but councillors complained that there is a shortfall when it comes to funding from State agencies, such as Irish Water and Transport In frastructure Ireland.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said they would now prepare an action plan setting out the impact the shortfalls are having on the county and its citizens so he could make the case for additional funding.
Independent TD Michael Collins later described the report as ‘explosive’.
He said it is clear that Cork County Council has been put at a disadvantage in terms of sourcing funding from central government.