New information released by Cork County Council supports claims by a major business association that it pays vast amounts of rates, but has got little or nothing back over the years to improve its creaking infrastructure.
Little Island Business Association (LIBA) has maintained it is getting “no bang for its buck” when it comes to infrastructure improvements in what is one of the biggest industrial and commercial powerhouses in the country.
On foot of requests from Cllr Pádraig O’Sullivan, the county council released information about the amount of rates paid in the general area.
However, it did not break them down specifically to Little Island, which some councillors found absolutely extraordinary as they felt it should be easy to isolate Little Island addresses on the rates database.
Council officials said they could only provide information in respect of the Rating District Number 13, which includes Little Island.
But it also includes
the Glanmire/Riverstown area and the villages of Glounthaune, Whitechurch, Knockraha, Glenville, Carrignavar and Great Island (excluding Cobh town.) Given that there are very few ratable premises in the villages, and little enough since heavy industry such as IFI and Verlome dockyard, was lost in Great Island, that leaves just the Glanmire/Riverstown area.
While that area contributes a reasonable proportion of rates in District 13, it would not be seen as a significant revenue generator for the county council compared to the major commercial and industrial heartland of Little Island where thousands of people are employed, some of them in large pharmaceutical companies.
The council’s head of finance, Lorraine Lynch, said that District 13 contributed €11.68m in rates in 2015, out of a total countywide take of €119.9m. Last year the same district contributed €10.77m out of a total of €117.4m. The bulk of this contribution would have been generated by Little Island businesses.
Cllr O’Sullivan also asked if he could get a projection of what rates might be paid by LIBA members this year, but that information was not forthcoming.
The information was given to a meeting of the Cobh/Glanmire municipal council district and Cllr O’Sullivan said it was “fair to say” that LIBA contributed “a very significant amount” to the local authority.
“I wouldn’t be happy with the return that businesses get of that. It’s unsatisfactory. This is the ammunition we need to throw back at them [council officials],” he said.
LIBA has argued that the road infrastructure leading into and within Little Island is completely substandard to cope with the thousands of workers coming in and out of there every day.
Huge traffic jams at peak times are a major problem and local residents are often trapped in their homes as a result.
The council has agreed to undertake a major transportation survey in an effort to find a solution. The first public consultation phase of this will take place next Thursday at the local Radisson Hotel.
“We all know the bulk of it [rates] is generated in Little Island,” said Cllr Anthony Barry.
“In the local area plan huge further developed earmarked for it and there should be an alternative access to it [on the eastern side].
“It is very hard to see how we can get traffic in and out quicker otherwise.”
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