Cork Council proposes to cede less territory

A formal proposal by Cork County Council to extend the city boundary would leave it with a revenue deficit of €8.6m annually, considerably less than a near €50m per year loss if the Mackinnon report recommendations are implemented.

Details of the proposal to cede less territory than that recommended by Mackinnon are contained in a document adopted at a meeting in County Hall yesterday.

It says the future ability of both councils to provide a proper level of service to the public must be assured and, in particular, services have to be future-proofed in peripheral rural areas.

County councillors are concerned that a major drop in revenue from rates and Local Property Tax will make it virtually impossible to provide services for rural communities.

The Mackinnon report states compensation must be paid by the city council for 10 years, with a review after five years.

The county council submission states: “Any financial compensation package incorporated into an agreement must endure in perpetuity.”

It maintains that “the nationally accepted principle of equalisation, which is central to the distribution of local and national taxes to weaker areas, must be respected”.

County officials say their proposal to cede control of Frankfield, Grange, Douglas, and Ballyvolane would transfer 39,258 people into the city, bringing its population to 164,915 — a 31.2% increase from 15,545 households.

They maintain their recently adopted local area plans for future growth in these suburbs would provide for a further increase in population of 43,700 in greenfield areas it proposes to transfer to the city council.

Their report says the joint submission from both local authorities to the National Planning Framework (NPF) proposes population growth of an additional 54,000 within the existing city boundary.

The county council says that, overall, its proposal would allow the extended city to have the capacity to grow to a population of between 262,615 and 283,615.

It claims the city’s population density would increase from 3,323 per sq/km to 4,065 per sq/km. While this would still be below the current Dublin City population density of 4,822 per sq/km, it would be representing a form of urban growth density that reflects the expected aim of the NPF and that of comparable international cities.

County councillors said they hope the document will bring their counterparts in the city to the table for talks. Cllr Ian Doyle (FG) said the “nuclear option” of legal action to prevent Mackinnon’s implementation is there if needed.

Cllr Noel Collins (Ind) said the document gives them “the ammunition to fight the enemy”, while Cllr Derry Canty (FG) urged Simon Coveney and Micheál Martin to “take Mackinnon off the table and stop driving a wedge between the city and county council”.

Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind), urged people to engage in the public consultation process.

“It (the boundary extension) will be the biggest decision taken in the region for 50 years and will have an impact for hundreds of years to come. I call on Cork City Council to enter into meaningful dialogue with us. Hopefully we don’t have to go down the legal route. If we have to, we will,” he said.

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