Cork City Council rejects land offer and seeks bigger border change

City authority rejects offer by Cork County Council to increase population to 160,000

A map of the Cork City Council area with areas (in yellow) which Cork County Council proposed to transfer.

A map of the Cork City Council area with areas (in yellow) which Cork County Council proposed to transfer.

 

Cork City Council has voted unanimously to reject an offer by Cork County Council to take over a portion of its land that would lead to the urban local authority almost doubling in size.

At a meeting on Monday evening, all 21 members of the 31 member Cork City Council present agreed to endorse a report by Cork City CEO Ann Doherty recommending rejection of the offer by Cork County Council.

The county council’s surprise offer, made earlier this month, would see the city’s population increase by about a third to more than 160,000.

However, this was far short of the redistribution of land recommended in the Mackinnon report on local government reform.

Published in June, it argued for the retention of two separate councils but called for an eightfold increase in the size of the city and 100,000 increase in its population to 225,000.

The Mackinnon report said the city should expand toinclude area such as Douglas, Donnybrook, Grange, Frankfield, Rochestown, Ballincollig, Tower, Blarney, Monard, Rathpeacon, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill which are all currently part of Cork county.

The Mackinnon report also proposed that Cork City Council would pay €40 million per year for ten years to Cork County Council to compensate for the loss of revenue from local property tax and commercial rates which it would lose with the transfer of the affected areas to city control.

Under the county council’s offer, made just weeks later, the city would expand to include areas such as Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Donnybrook Grange, Castletreasure and Rochestown on the southside and Kilbarry, Carhoo, Kilcully and Ballyvolane on the northside.

All these areas are contiguous to the city but significantly the county council offer did not include Blarney, Ballincollig, Glanmire Little Island, Carrigtwohill, Cork Airport or Monard where Cork County Council has plans for the building of 5,000 housing units adjacent to the Cork-Mallow rail line.

Tax generation

The areas that the county council were willing to cede to the city currently generate €16 million annually in commercial rates and local property taxes but the area has a future income generation potential of €60 million per annum, said Cork County Council in a detailed statement on the offer.

At Monday evening’s meeting, the city council’s ceo dismissed the county council offer, saying it was not possible to reconcile it with “the principles and rationale” of the Mackinnon Report which had been accepted by Minister for Local Government, Eoghan Murphy.

Ms Doherty said the county council had asked the city council to give serious consideration to their amended proposal for a reduced boundary extension but responsibility for the reform now rested with a group set up by Mr Murphy to oversee the implementation of the Mackinnon report.

“It has been made clear by the oversight group to both chief executives that it cannot accept alternative proposals that run contrary to the proposed broad boundary changes set out in the report of the expert advisory group (the Mackinnon Report),” said Ms Doherty.

“In my view 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 Boundary Group, as accepted by the Minister,” she added.

“To express a willingness to entertain such a proposal would effectively accede to the rewriting of the Report of the Expert Advisory Group, something that the Oversight Group has indicated will not be entertained.”

Cork City Council nominated a team headed up by David Joyce, director of services with environment and recreation, to work with the oversight group which meets again on September 5th, on the exact details of the boundary extension proposed by Mackinnon.