City council must be ‘realistic’ on services

THE head of one of the country’s largest local authorities has said it will have to set out a “realistic level of service” so that people realise what it can and can’t do with fewer resources.

However, Cork’s new city manager, Tim Lucey, vowed to ensure that the council continues to add to the city’s competitiveness.

In his first interview since assuming the role on September 1, Mr Lucey promised streamlined and efficient service delivery. But he said such are the funding challenges, the council will have to identify and focus on its “core services”.

He declined to elaborate on which services may be affected – there is speculation that the council’s bin service could be targeted – and said all areas are being examined as work begins on the preparation of the council’s December budget.

He declined to be drawn on whether or not business rates will be increased.

“There will be toughdecisions ahead but the decisions will be made in the best interests of the city,” he said.

“We need to ensure that the city council is working to its absolute best, with few resources.

“We will need to prioritise service delivery and be clear on what we can and cannot do, and set out the level of service we realistically can provide.

“It is critical that the citizens and businesses of Cork know what challenges we face and what we can and cannot do.”

Mr Lucey, 47, a father of two from Bandon, begun his public service career in 1982 with Cork County Council.

He has worked with the former Southern Health Board, Cork City Council and Skibbereen Urban District Council.

He was Northern Divisional Manager with Cork County Council from March 2006, and was responsible for a broad range of services, including housing, roads, water, planning, community, recreation and amenity services and economic development.

From 2002 to 2006, he was the county council’sdirector of CorporateAffairs, and had responsibility for corporate planning, communications and public relations, legal services and the re-development of County Hall.

He was the council’s financial accountant from 1996 to 2002 and led the introduction of the council’s new financial management systems. A qualified accountant, he also holds a degree in Public Administration from the IPA and a Diploma in Healthcare Management.

He said that while he is still reading himself into his brief at City Hall, there are several key areas that will help keep the city competitive and attractive despite the recession.

Work must continue to ensure the docklandsregeneration takes place, he said.

“This needs to be treated as a national project, with national focus and attention,” he said.

A permanent events centre must also be delivered. He hinted that public investment, which was previously available but withdrawn, may be available again to the private sector to kickstart the project.

Work must also continue on the development of the city’s tourism and cultural potential, and on infrastructure and public transport, so that when the economy turns, the city is ready to capitalise, he said.


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