Local Elections: Revamped electoral area covers huge geographical spread

The revamped Cork City South East local electoral area represents a daunting challenge for any single

Local Elections: Revamped electoral area covers huge geographical spread

The revamped Cork City South East local electoral area represents a daunting challenge for any single candidate.

It covers a huge geographical spread, including core city communities, villages with their own distinct identities and a vast rural area.

As well as the likes of Mahon, Blackrock Ballintemple and Ballinlough, elected representatives in the area will now also be responsible for Douglas, Rochestown and the adjacent residential areas.

The northern and western fringes of the local electoral area are largely similar but a few neighbourhoods have been lost to the south-central ward, which could spell bad news for some candidates who have strong roots in these areas.

Previously, the boundary of the old Cork City south-east ward was the River Lee, the N27 and the N40. Now it has extended beyond these to take in Douglas, Rochestown and the surrounding areas.

On the north and west sides, it extends as far as Kennedy Quay and Albert Road, with the Douglas Road acting as its western border.

South of the N40, the boundary now takes in parts of Grange, including several large housing estates, including Maryborough.

In an entirely new proposition as far as the south-east local election area is concerned, a vast green belt is now included.

Areas south of Douglas, including Moneygurney, Ballinimlagh and Knocknamullagh are now included, and the local election area extends as far east as Rochestown and Hop Island, stopping just short of Passage West.

Some of the final decisions regarding the new Cork City South-East Local Electoral Area raised a few eyebrows. For a start, the existing south-east city ward is represented by seven councillors.

Despite the addition of significant land and population, including Douglas, Rochestown and the adjacent green belt, the new larger south-east will actually have fewer seats.

It will be cut to just six as the pack is shuffled throughout the city.

This was highlighted as an issue by Cork City Council in its submission to the local area boundary committee during the preparation of the final new city boundary.

The council said going by national guidelines for representation, there should have been an increase of elected members from 31 to 42, giving a ratio of 5,018 people to each member.

Instead, by keeping Cork City Council at 31, the ratio is now more than 6,000 people per member, with Cork city south-east area at 7,130 per councillor.

Unlike in many other parts of the county, there was less opposition in Douglas when it came to extending the city boundary.

The village sits right on the cusp of the existing city boundary, with infrastructural projects, such as roundabouts and roadworks, often shared between the two local authorities due to location.

While it has ballooned in size in recent years — the population is now north of 26,000 — there is a general feeling among some residents that it could have been developed better with a single vision overseen by one local authority.

There were, however, more questions about Hop Island and the greenway that extends from the Marina in the city centre to Crosshaven.

County councillors maintained that the green route was the key to the future of Passage West, which will remain in the county’s jurisdiction.

They claimed that allowing it to become part of the city made no sense.

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