Row escalates between Cork City Council and Cork County Council

Lord mayor of Cork city and county mayor clash over boundary curtailing city’s expansion

The lord mayor of Cork city, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, has written an open letter to some 100,000 people who currently live in the county council area but would be incorporated into an expanded city region.

The lord mayor of Cork city, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, has written an open letter to some 100,000 people who currently live in the county council area but would be incorporated into an expanded city region.

 

A row over the proposed expansion of Cork city into surrounding county areas has escalated, with the mayors of the affected local authorities clashing amid accusations of scaremongering over the proposed boundary changes.

The lord mayor of Cork city, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, has written an open letter to some 100,000 people who currently live in the county council area but would be incorporated into an expanded city region.

The change, which would lead to a seven-fold increase in the size of the city council area, is proposed in the Mackinnon report on local government reform across Co Cork.

In the letter Mr Fitzgerald sought to reassure those affected by the proposal – residents of areas such as Rochestown, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire and Carrigtwohill – that their being part of the city offers Cork the best opportunity to grow.

He said Cork city’s growing economy has not resulted in an increased population as the city has been “strangled by an outdated boundary that has not been extended since 1965”.

This had, he said, resulted in a necklace of suburbs and satellite towns developing outside the boundary to meet housing needs. These areas also include commercial and industrial units, but for five decades Cork County Council had “steadfastly refused to agreed to a city boundary extension as it would mean relinquishing these rates bases”.

Remote parts

Mr Fitzgerald said data shows that much revenue generated in these areas was diverted to fund services in more remote parts of the county, whereas Cork City Council believes rates and taxes should be spent where they are raised.

“As a public representative I am deeply disappointed by recent attempts to whip up unnecessary fear in communities. Such falsehoods must be countered,” he said, adding that extending the city boundary would not stop access to rural funding streams.

The mayor of Cork County, Cllr Declan Hurley, rejected the arguments made by his city counterpart, arguing that much of the economic development that had happened in the metropolitan Cork area was outside the city boundary. He pointed to foreign direct investment in areas like Ringaskiddy and Little Island.

He said there was nothing unusual in the county council’s approach to distributing revenues raised in the richer rate bases areas to subsidise services in more remote areas.

“The county council has never made any secret that its extremities are supported by the centre, and this is how it should be.”

Brown-field sites

Mr Hurley accused the city of failing to develop to its full potential, saying Cork County Council shared the city’s long-standing objective of growth within the city area even though “the city’s failure to develop the many brown-field sites within its jurisdiction cannot be blamed on the county council”.

He said an over-generous boundary extension would also do little to address the city council’s failure to redevelop the Cork docklands, the strategy for which he said should be examined.