A pro­posal to make Cork city seven times big­ger has lo­cal politi­cians vy­ing for land and in­come

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

year for 10 years in com­pen­sa­tion to the county. The area in ques­tion gen­er­ates ¤86 mil­lion a year in rev­enue, mi­nus ¤46 mil­lion it spends on ser­vice pro­vi­sion in the area.

But – like ev­ery as­pect of this story – the fi­nances are the sub­ject of de­bate. A Cork City Coun­cil source says the Mack­in­non fig­ure of the ¤40 mil­lion per an­num loss to the county coun­cil is based on the mi­nor­ity Smiddy re­port ex­pan­sion, which in­cludes Car­ri­ga­line, Rin­gask­iddy, Monkstown and Pas­sage, which Mack­in­non ex­cludes from his ex­ten­sion. There­fore, the source says, the fig­ure should be less.

The cur­rent mayor of Co Cork, De­clan Hur­ley, claims Cork City Coun­cil would not be able to spend the same money per head of pop­u­la­tion in a Mack­in­non city as it cur­rently does: ¤1,363 in the city com­pared to the county’s ¤737.

And a Cork City Hall source says the county’s fig­ures do not give a true pic­ture as the ¤737 is an av­er­age across the county, and the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices in the sub­ur­ban ar­eas in­volved spend­ing of ¤297 per capita and would not be as big a drain on city funds as the county coun­cil is sug­gest­ing.

Mean­while, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Tony Fitzger­ald, re­minded county sub­ur­ban dwellers in Rochestown, Grange and Frank­field that their lo­cal prop­erty tax was be­ing used by Cork County Coun­cil to fund ser­vices in north and west Cork.

“Data shows that much rev­enue gen­er­ated in th­ese de facto city sub­urbs and satel­lite towns is di­verted to fund ser­vices in more re­mote parts of the county with lower pop­u­la­tions, whereas Cork City Coun­cil be­lieves rates and taxes should be spent where they are raised.”

Since Mack­in­non was pub­lished the de­bate has be­come more heated, with Cork County Coun­cil tak­ing the per­haps sur­pris­ing step of of­fer­ing to cede land to Cork City Coun­cil that would see the city ex­pand in area by 84.5 per cent to 69.76sq km and in pop­u­la­tion by 31.2 per cent to 164,915.

Un­der this county coun­cil of­fer the city would ex­pand to in­clude Dough­cloyne, Frank­field, Grange Don­ny­brook, Castle­trea­sure and Rochestown on the south­side and Kil­barry, Kil­cully and Bal­lyvolane on the north side – but not Ballincol­lig, Blar­ney, Glan­mire, Lit­tle Is­land or Car­rigt­wohill.

Cork City Coun­cil has re­jected the of­fer, say­ing it is not pos­si­ble to rec­on­cile the county coun­cil of­fer with “the prin­ci­ples and rationale” of the Mack­in­non re­port which have been ac­cepted by Gov­ern­ment.

That re­jec­tion by the city led ear­lier this month to Cork County Coun­cil for­mally mak­ing the of­fer of ter­ri­tory to the city un­der sec­tion 29 of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act. This re­quires the county coun­cil to em­bark on a public con­sul­ta­tion process with af­fected com­mu­ni­ties.

Fianna Fáil city coun­cil­lor Tim Bros­nan ac­cused the county coun­cil of mak­ing the of­fer as a stalling ex­er­cise to pre­vent a group ap­pointed by Min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Eoghan Murphy from fi­nal­is­ing a bound­ary ex­ten­sion.

What­ever Cork County Coun­cil’s mo­ti­va­tion, the sec­tion 29 of­fer is likely to slow down the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Mack­in­non re­port, and while some city coun­cil­lors have urged the county to en­gage with Mack­in­non as “the only show in town”, it may not be a fait ac­com­pli.

The re­al­ity is that na­tional pol­i­tics will also have a part to play. What­ever deal is reached it will have to be agree­able not just to Eoghan Murphy but also Micheál Martin.

Sev­eral sources, both po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness, view what Cork County Coun­cil has of­fered so far as sim­ply its open­ing pitch. It is ex­pected that “an im­proved of­fer” to cede more ter­ri­tory to the city will be made over the com­ing months, but any such deal will have to be en­dorsed at Cabi­net level.

“I can see a lot of horse trad­ing yet,” says one ob­server. “All the south side sub­urbs will go into the city and maybe the air­port too, which is worth about ¤5 mil­lion in rev­enue, as the county might con­cede on that if the city re­ally pushed for it in terms of the pres­tige and sta­tus it would bring.

“Glan­mire and all to the west of the N8 could all go into the city, along with all the land in­side the pro­posed North­ern Ring Road, but I see Car­rigt­wohill stay­ing in the county, while I reckon there will be a con­test over Ballincol­lig and to a lesser ex­tent Blar­ney – it’s go­ing to be very in­ter­est­ing.”

Prop­erty tax

Top: Fianna Fáil coun­cil­lor Bob Ryan in Matey, Co Cork, the pro­posed new bound­ary of Cork city cur­rently 17km from the city. Above: Fine Gael coun­cil­lor Deirdre Forde at the cur­rent bound­ary line be­tween Cork city and county in Dou­glas vil­lage. PHO­TO­GRAPHS: MICHAEL MAC SWEENEY/ PRO­VI­SION & DARAGH MCSWEENEY/ PRO­VI­SION Stalling ex­er­cise

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