Given the choice of a city boundary extension or a merger of the city and county councils, most people in the buffer zone would opt for a boundary extension.
The findings were published yesterday by high-profile Cork South Central Labour TD Ciarán Lynch, who undertook the online survey himself amid concerns about the lack of wider public consultation undertaken by the Cork Local Government Review Group (CLGR).
A total of 244 people living in the Douglas, Carrigaline and Rochestown areas — key areas on the city and county boundary zone which would be affected by a merger or boundary extension — responded to Mr Lynch’s survey during August.
He said the findings of the popular survey are in direct conflict with the CLGR’s key merger recommendation announced last week.
And he called on his party colleague, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, to reject the merger plan and go back to the drawing board.
“The respondents to the survey made a clear connection between the need to enlarge the city and the positive benefits in terms of service provision, investment, tourism, and the regeneration of the city centre,” he said.
“Some suggested that those living in areas which could be affected by a boundary extension should be given the opportunity to vote on any decision.
“Others feel that there needs to be a public campaign to encourage debate on the issue.”
The CLGR was split three to two in favour of a merger last week, with two UCC academics publishing a minority report favouring a boundary extension. Mr Lynch said the level of engagement with his survey showed that people were aware of, and care about, the local government review process.
“The findings of the survey, though gathered before the publication of the minority report of the committee, concur with its recommendations.
“They are clearly identified as being in line with the better interests of both councils, leading to a more sustainable and progressive form of local government.
“I believe that progressing the recommendations of the majority committee report would undermine the best strategic interests of the greater Cork City region and would also not meet the specific needs and interests of the distinct and different areas that make up the city and county.”
He said the focus of the CLGR appeared to have drifted from the Government’s own local government reform package ‘Putting People First 2012’, which highlighted the urgent need to address the Cork City boundary issue.
“It indicated clearly that the solution is forming a metropolitan unit by extending the city area,” he said.