Council favours single local authority

LIMERICK County Council has come out in favour of a single local authority to manage Limerick city and county council, in preference to further boundary extensions.

Minister for Local Government John Gormley set up the Limerick Local Government Committee (LLGC) under former Kerry Group head Denis Brosnan to bring forward proposals for the future governance of the greater Limerick area.

The decision of Limerick County Council will now be sent as a submission to Mr Brosnan’s committee.

In a presentation to yesterday’s meeting of the county council, County Manager Ned Gleeson said: “Limerick County Council is firmly of the view that a unitary authority is the best model of local governance for Limerick in order to address the existing challenges.”

Mr Gleeson said a boundary extension would have substantial downsides and would not resolve governance issues, and would not provide the necessary focus to address the significant challenges facing Limerick.

The mid-west has a total population of 361,028 of which 184,355 live in the administrative areas of the two Limerick authorities.

The Limerick County Council proposal said a small area of Clare in the Limerick suburbs could also be included in the single authority area, without this area losing its Clare identity.

Mr Gleeson said the new administrative area would have a population of almost 200,000 with a strong mix of manufacturing, services and agricultural enterprises and a broad range of educational opportunities.

“Essentially a merger of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council would provide the optimum benefits of all the options considered and, in addition, would provide greater coherence, more integrated planning, more efficient and effective local government, a greater sense of ownership and commitment at all levels.”

Limerick city centre, which is suffering a major loss of retail outlets, would also gain from a new single authority, Mr Gleeson said.

Following the launch of the Limerick Regeneration Plan in 2008, Limerick County Council agreed to a boundary extension on the northside of the city where it handed over Caherdavin to the control of the city council.

However, the county council made it clear it was totally opposed to further boundary extensions.

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