The Lord Mayor of Cork will tonight formally propose that Cork City Council approve the expert advisory report recommending a boundary extension, claiming it is “fundamental” to the future of the city.
The report, published last Friday by Simon Coveney, the minister for housing, planning, community, and local government, commits to two local authorities in Cork.
But it wants to extend the city boundary, in what the minister said would be the most ambitious move of its type ever undertaken in this country.
However, the proposals hit an immediate obstacle on Friday evening, when Cork County Council said it could not accept the report in its current form and sought key clarifications and additional details.
Mr Coveney has appointed a five-person group to return with recommendations by September, or before, regarding a timeframe for implementation of the report, suggesting he would like it in place by 2019 and by that year’s local elections.
One key issue is the reduction in the rates base for Cork County Council, thanks to the transfer of urban areas in the city hinterland to Cork City Council.
The Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Local Government Arrangements in Cork, also known as the Mackinnon Report, after its chair, Jim Mackinnon, proposes a reciprocal payment scheme, in which Cork City Council would pass funds to its county counterpart.
Mr Coveney suggested that one estimate as to the amount likely to be transferred would be €40m a year and that he wanted it index-linked and guaranteed for a decade.
Cork City Council chief executive, Ann Doherty, welcomed the report and Cllr Des Cahill, who will chair the ordinary meeting of the city council for the final time as lord mayor tonight, said he would propose that the council formally approve the report.
“Since the initiation of the process of the local government review, the city council has been steadfast and unanimous in asserting that the extension of the boundaries of the city was the correct solution for a new model of local government for Cork,” he said.
“I believe passionately that a boundary extension is the right solution, not just for the city, but for the county, too, as well as for the southern region, and for Ireland. A healthy and independent city is critical to drive economic growth and the wealth of the region.
“Ireland needs a rebalancing of growth and prosperity. The country is crying out for a counterbalance to Dublin. The implementation of the McKinnon Report is fundamental, if Cork is to fulfil its role as the state’s second city. The formal approval of the council, on Monday, will represent the vital next step on that journey.”
The Mackinnon Report proposes that places including Little Island, Glanmire, Blarney, and Ballincollig become city council areas, in what would be the first boundary extension of the city for 50 years.
The limits of the extension have yet to be finalised, with the minister stating he felt Cobh should be included in the city council area.
Mr Coveney plans to bring a memo to the Cabinet, within two weeks, regarding the report’s recommendations.
Any boundary changes will have to be passed by Dáil Éireann. A recommendation for a super-merger of the two councils was rejected.
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