Cork City South Central was previously a small electoral area but it represents a very different proposition after the expansion of the city boundary.
It is still the smallest area ward with a population of 38,000, 2,000 less than the second smallest area in the new, expanded city. But it has taken in a large amount of new lands, taking in large parts of the old south-west and south-east electoral districts.
Previously, the western boundary ran from the River Lee along Donovan’s Road. It excluded populous areas like College Road, which were then part of the south-west ward.
This has changed, though. It is now taking in the northern corner of the old south-west ward, including UCC and Glasheen. Its new border is Wilton Road and Magazine Road.
On the southern side, the boundary used loosely follow the N40 and the N27, which formed the eastern boundary north to the River Lee, taking in the city centre island.
Now, the boundary will follow the N27 and follow the Douglas Road, stopping just before Douglas village.
Everything thing east of Douglas Road and North of the N40 will fall into the new local electoral area. On the southern side, the boundary line will run down through Grange, with Oakview, Glenview, and Grange Vale going to South-East, and areas west of Ashford Court as far as the N27 going to South Central.
Quite significantly, the area now includes many of the areas around UCC, including College Road, which has often been a particularly busy one for the elected representatives of the area.
It also includes the city centre island. While many of the elected members of Cork City Council will claim to have the city centre on their radar, a renewed focus on a “living city” and core city centre communities may present challenges for those elected to represent the area.
Major decisions, such as the St Patrick’s Street bus corridor and the OPW flood measures, are taken by votes of the full council, not just the ward councillors, but emerging communities in the heart of the city will want to work closely with their representatives.
Such work has already been undertaken on Douglas St where a new traders group has emerged and by connecting with the council, they have breathed new life into the street.
It has not gone unnoticed either: traders and residents from Barrack St and the quays areas are keen to follow suit and it is likely to be a regular topic of conversation during the canvassing trail for those in the area.
In addition, there will be the small matter of constituents who formerly found themselves as part of the south-east of the city now meeting new faces at their doors.
The redrawing of electoral division lines on the southside of the city was a point of contention for many. During the process, Cork City Council’s own submission to the boundary commission pointed out potential issues in splitting communities on the southside.
In fact, keeping communities together was one of the terms of reference of the boundary committee’s work.
But, the new divisions haven’t solved the issues that were raised in some cases: Lehenagh is split between the south-west and south-central divisions, while Togher and Grange are also split between two wards.
Ballyphehane, the Lough and UCC will form part of the south-central district but Glasheen, an area which shares many similarities and similar issues with these, will be in the south-west and, potentially, could be vying for representation with Ballincollig, a far more populous area on the edge of the same ward.
While much of the focus on the redrawn city and the impact this could have on representation has focused on the areas that are currently part of Cork County Council’s remit, this will also be felt in existing city communities, with the city’s southside one of the clearest examples of it.