Kerry football legend Pat Spillane has ‘red-carded’ the Mackinnon recommendations for a major boundary extension of Cork City, but said the county council will have to cede more territory than it’s currently offering.
Mr Spillane, who is an ambassador for Action Plan for Rural Development, recently told the annual general meeting of Muintir na Tire that he considered the Mackinnon report as “a land grab.”
The eight-time All Ireland medal winner, who is now a GAA TV pundit, told the Irish Examiner he did not think predominantly rural areas such as Glounthaune and Carrigtwohill should be included in an expanded city.
He said they would “lose their identity” if subsumed into the city.
Mr Spillane said he was concerned that this push for further urbanisation was just the tip of the iceberg to come and it would leave rural areas out on a limb.
He was echoing the fears of several county councillors who have grave concerns over their local authority’s ability to service peripheral areas if they have to give up nearly €50m in commercial rates and local property tax per year if the Mackinnon recommendations are adopted by the Government.
The Mackinnon report proposes that the city council take over jurisdiction of Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Glounthaune, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill.
Mr Spillane said this was “way too excessive” and added there was need for a compromise.
The county council, on the other hand, has drawn up a statutory document under the Local Government Acts which is offering to cede Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Grange, Castletreasure, and Oldcourt on the southside and Ballyvolane, Kilbarry, and Carhoo on the northside.
Mr Spillane said this was probably too little.
A number of county councillors agree with him and have signalled in private that they may have to give up Cork Airport and Glanmire and even go as far as ceding Ballincollig to get the city council to engage in meaningful talks.
“When it comes to a national planning strategy, the key is balanced growth and that needs to be put onto a legislative footing,” said Mr Spillane.
“For example, 40% of all economic activity in Ireland is around the Dublin area. It’s 20% in London and around 10% in other EU capitals.”.
Under the terms of the statutory document compiled by the county council, the city council has up to six months to reply the county council’s offer.
The land the county council is prepared to cede would initially provide the city council with a cash windfall of more than €16m a year from commercial rates and Local Property Tax.
The city council is supposed to compensate the county council for any financial loses over a 10-year period, which is to be reviewed after five years.
The county council’s statutory report states losses should be paid by the city council indefinitely, which City Hall is unlikely to accept.
County councillors doubt the city council would be able to afford to repay the €50m which would be due annually if the Mackinnon report was implemented and at the same time pay for services in the huge area it will take over.
This uncertainty has led many county councillors to say without such money they would be unable to service rural areas properly.
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