Report on Cork councils criticised as a ‘missed opportunity’

Cork County Council disappointed with recommendation to maintain separate bodies

The key aspect of the report was the retention of two separate local authorities, with the city area being expanded. File photograph: iStock/Getty Images

The key aspect of the report was the retention of two separate local authorities, with the city area being expanded. File photograph: iStock/Getty Images

 

Cork County Council has criticised a report which recommends the retention of two separate local authorities in the county saying it represents “a major missed opportunity”.

Cork County Council said the expert advisory group’s report lacked clarity on a number of key issues including its central recommendation that the Cork City Council boundary should be expanded into parts of Cork county surrounding the city.

The key aspect of the report was the retention of two separate local authorities with the city area being expanded to include Douglas, Donnybrook, Grange, Frankfield, Rochestown, Ballincollig, Tower, Blarney, Rathpeacon, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill.

The report proposes that Cork City Council would pay €40 million per year for 10 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 the city administration.

But on Friday night, Cork County Council issued a strongly worded statement when it took issue with the report. The report was launched by Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney who hailed it as blueprint for the development of Cork over the next 50 years.

According to Cork County Council, it has been unanimously committed to “a whole of Cork model” which would see both Cork City Council and Cork County Council operating on joint statutory basis to serve the entirety of the region, both city and county.

“The council is disappointed to note that the advisory group’s report fails to address this overarching principle of effective local governance – this is a major missed opportunity,” said Cork County Council before outlining some of the issues on which it is seeking clarification.

Among the issues that the council is seeking further clarification on is the status of the new report given the existence of the previous statutory Smiddy report which advocated a merger of the two local authorities.

The county council was also seeking clarification on the exact position of the proposed boundary expansion as well as information on the proposed financial compensation package to be paid to the council for the surrender of part of its territory to the city council.

The Mayor of Cork County Cllr Seamus McGrath said the county council was “not in a position to accept the report until such time as the council . . . has received satisfactory responses to a wide range of clarifications, including issues in relation to the above key areas”.

Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey said: “The challenge for all of us in Cork County Council is to ensure that the services for the county are not negatively impacted by the implementation of the recommendations. So, we will review the report and any clarifications in detail before making any further comment on it.”

‘Rebalancing’

Meanwhile, Cork City Council has welcomed the report with Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Des Cahill saying the report was about “a rebalancing of the natural boundaries of the city while allowing each local authority to best use their expertise to meet their respective needs and to better the region.

“Throughout the entire review process, Cork City Council has remained steadfast in its belief that the future prosperity of the city and region could only be achieved by a boundary extension. Today is a good day for the south of Ireland, ” said Cllr Cahill.