A PROPOSAL to extend Cork City Council boundary would have a detrimental effect on Cork County Council areas, which would now be moved into and considered as city council areas, independent Deputy Michael Collins told the Dáil.
Proposing a motion to the House, he said a review commissioned by the Department, the Mackinnon report, proposed that Cork City Council’s boundary be extended and, if implemented, would be the one of the most significant reforms of local government structures in the history of the State. It would see the population of the city nearly double to 225,000.
‘First, this change will give rise to an estimated loss of €80 million to Cork County Council through commercial rates and property taxes,’ he said. ‘Cork County Council’s funding is already very stretched and this loss will leave constituents of the county council further deprived of essential infrastructure, whether roads, services and even the reduced amount of public representatives for the respective areas.
‘This is not a party political issue, but there are considerable divisions within parties between those in favour of implementing this report and those against,’ he said. ‘This will cause a further urban-rural divide within our county councils when we should be working together. If this change was to go ahead, it would be considered as a Cork Brexit. Its consequences are not yet known and will not be fully known until it is too late.’
Deputy Collins said it was proposed that the county council will receive a compensation package from the city council in return for this change, but all suggestions of any possible loan repayment are far too vague to be accepted or even considered.
‘It is sad to see that my local authority feels that the only way to negotiate any changes to this report is through the courts as the city council and the local government implementation oversight group have so far refused to accept any alternative reports or recommendations to the Mackinnon report,’ he added.
Cork South Central Deputy Michael McGrath said every effort should be made to reach agreement between the two authorities. ‘Sometimes politicians forget that people are far more concerned about services than boundaries,’ he said.
‘Equally, I accept and support the need for the boundary of Cork city to be extended. There are clear anomalies already in Togher, Douglas and Rochestown, areas that are contiguous with the city and that are altogether urban and built up. They need to be within Cork city.’
Minister of State John Paul Phelan told the House no final decision has been made at this point on the issue. ‘The most important factor in achieving effective and appropriate local government arrangements in Cork is the exercise of leadership and goodwill on the part of both local authorities, working to achieve an outcome that will be in the best interests of Cork and its communities,’ he said.