Cork County Council to review impact of the recommendations
The report of the Cork Expert Advisory Group (which was tasked with examining local government arrangements in Cork) has been published by Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.
A special meeting of Cork County Council’s Corporate Policy Group took place on Friday afternoon to review the 118 page report which was received earlier that day. The Council grouping performed an initial assessment of the report’s summary recommendations and their implications for the County.
While the Council acknowledges that there are some positive aspects to the report’s findings, it has also expressed serious concerns in relation to many of the overriding principles contained therein. As a consequence, the Council has indicated that it is not in a position to accept the report in the absence of further information and the receipt of satisfactory clarification to a series of important questions.
Crucially, the Council has, for some time, been unanimously committed to a “whole of Cork” model. This would see Cork City Council and Cork County Council operating on a joint statutory City and County basis serving the entirety of the region of Cork City and County. Such an arrangement would formalise the collaborative efforts of both organisations in strategically governing and developing Cork to its best potential. The Council is disappointed to note that the Advisory Group’s report fails to address this overarching principle of effective local governance; this is a major missed opportunity.
There are a range of other matters that the Council requires significant further clarification on. Chief amongst these include:
The status of this Advisory Group’s report having regard to the existence of a statutory report (the “Smiddy Report”) since September 2015
The absence of a definitive proposed boundary layout for the expanded City area
Questions as regards to who (or what body) will determine the exact nature, extent and specifics of the proposed new boundary
The absence of more specific information regarding proposed financial/ compensatory arrangements that will need to be put in place in order to ensure that service delivery to rural and marginalised regions of the county can be sustained
The lack of information as regards the implementation timeline
The proposed Implementation Oversight Body – its terms of reference, structure, membership composition, and status.
The Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Seamus McGrath, stated that the County Council is not in a position to accept the report until such time as the Council has considered the full details of the extensive report and, more importantly, until it has received satisfactory responses to a wide range of clarifications, including issues in relation to the above key areas.
Mr Tim Lucey, Chief Executive, Cork County Council stated: “There is no doubt that the proposed changes would have a major impact on the county, and it is important to carefully examine and understand the key recommendations before making further comment on the matter.
“The challenge for all of us in Cork County Council is to ensure that the services for the county are not negatively impacted by the implementation of the recommendations. So, we will review the report and any clarifications in detail before making any further comment on it,” he said.