Council tries to ease boundary fear

Cork City Council has moved to ease fears in areas affected by the proposed city boundary extension, insisting it will not lead to a hike in rates or insurance costs.

Following weeks of controversy over the issue and amid criticism of its silence on the matter, the local authority has placed a full-page ‘myth-busting’ advertisement in today’s Irish Examiner in an effort to address some of the “concerns and misunderstandings” about the impact of the so-called Mackinnon extension.

It comes as Cork County Council launched a two-month consultation period yesterday on its proposal to cede a smaller area of land to the city.

Despite public consultation ahead of the now shelved 2015 Smiddy review of Cork’s local government arrangements, County Mayor, Cllr Declan Hurley, urged people to have their say.

“The people of Cork have been listening to commentary in relation to boundary matters for the last number of weeks,” he said.

“One clear message that has come across is that there is a desire by Cork people to be involved in shaping their future; for Cork people to be afforded an opportunity to have their say.

“Cork County Council recognises this and has put a public consultation system in place to facilitate it.”

In its ad, the city council says suggestions that car and house insurance costs will increase as a result of a boundary extension are not true.

“Currently, some areas in the county administrative area have higher insurance costs than areas in the city administrative area. There are a number of reasons for this including claims history but the variation in costs is not as a result of the city/county boundary line,” it says.

It insists rates will not rise if the boundary is extended and that there are no proposals to reduce service levels. It says pay-parking areas are only introduced outside the city centre at the request of businesses and residents, and stresses that the city council will continue to fund and support Tidy Towns groups, will keep local area offices, and has no wish to alter the fabric of towns or villages.

The council defends its spend on recreational facilities, pointing out that it spends over €171 per person on recreation and facilities compared to almost €58 per person spent by the county council, and points out that it supports up to 40 festivals and funds another 24 including Christmas in Cork, the St Patrick’s Day Festival, Cork Midsummer, and Culture Night.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s three Cork TDs along with its seven county and eight city councillors have restated their support for the McKinnon report, with some qualifications.

South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said he is dismayed at the public spat between the two councils, which, he said, has been damaging to local government in Cork.

He said both councils are not that far apart, pointing out that both support a dual authority approach and accept the need for the city to grow.

“The extent of the expansion is contentious, but this can be overcome,” he said. “We believe a resolution is possible, with some leadership and maturity from both executives and councils. The Mackinnon recommend-ations offer a better solution for this issue than has been on the table for 20 years.”

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