The Mayor of the County of Cork, Declan Hurley, says he is disappointed “by the obvious lack of adequate assessment and consideration” given by City Hall to the County Hall’s offer and solution to extending the city boundary.
This latest salvo in the war of words between the two local authorities came after the city council said the county council’s offer to hand over control of Frankfield, Grange, Douglas, and Ballyvolane was “minimalist” and was nowhere near what the Mackinnon Report, on a new boundary, recommended.
The Mackinnon Report had recommended the city boundary should embrace Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill.
“Cork County Council submitted a very generous proposal to Cork City Council which would see the geographic area of Cork City increase in size by 85%, thereby allowing Cork City’s population to increase by 39,000 with the capacity of the city population to grow to 283,000 over time,” said Mr Hurley.
He said the county council invested considerable time and effort in identifying a practical way forward but, “regrettably, its outreach initiative has not been responded to in kind”.
The county mayor noted the city council had objected to the statutory Smiddy Report and that now it had also rejected “this better and more sensible solution put forward by the county”.
“The elected members of Cork County Council are unanimous in their support for this offering and we believe that it represents a great opportunity to achieve a successful outcome for this issue and for Cork as a whole,” he said.
His Cork City counterpart, Tony Fitzgerald, said the city required a substantial boundary increase if it was to compete internationally for investment and act as a sustainable counterbalance to Dublin.
Mr Fitzgerald reiterated that the Mackinnon Report had been accepted by the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, who set up an oversight group to oversee its implementation and it cannot be rewritten.
The Lord Mayor also warned that if Cork City’s population was not allowed to top 500,000 as outlined in the Mackinnon Report, it would lose competitive advantage and fall substantially behind Dublin and Belfast.
“If we agreed to a more limited boundary extension, Cork City could go from being the second city in this country to possible third or fourth-tier status,” he said. “As it stands, Belfast is defined as a global city. Cork isn’t. If we agree to a more limited boundary extension, Cork would end up one-sixth smaller in size than Belfast is now. Yet Belfast intends growing its population to 427,000 by 2035.
“This shortsightedness on our behalf would seriously undermine the wider Cork region’s capacity to compete globally and to attract investment and jobs.”
Mr Fitzgerald noted the words of the Mackinnon report which suggested a substantial boundary extension was the opportunity to turn, into reality, rhetoric around Cork’s enormous potential.
“This very report warns that other city regions in Ireland are making conscious preparations to grow, develop and respond to new opportunities and could potentially challenge Cork’s place as the natural counterbalance to Dublin,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Meanwhile, Mr Hurley said he was still awaiting clarification from Mr Murphy on the scope and remit of the Implementation Group that has been charged with implementing the Mackinnon report.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved