Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, today (12 December) published a report of the Cork Implementation Oversight Group which outlines the proposed delineation of an extended boundary for Cork City.
The Cork Implementation Oversight Group, which was established in July 2017 on foot of recommendations of the Cork Expert Advisory Group (The MacKinnon Report), was tasked with overseeing arrangements for the alteration of the boundary between the respective areas of jurisdiction of Cork City Council and Cork County Council and producing an Implementation Plan for that purpose.
Speaking today, the Minister said:
”As a result of the group’s deliberations with the chief executives and senior staff in both councils in relation to the alteration of the boundary between their administrative areas, both Chief Executives agreed to recommend to their respective Councils a specific proposal for a new boundary”
The proposed boundary follows generally the boundary of the City and suburbs shown by the 2016 CSO census report but excludes areas east of the M8 motorway. In the south, it extends to include all of the zoned airport area and on the north side it extends above Glanmire to the west of the M8. It includes Tower and Blarney but excludes the Monard Strategic Development Zone.
The report proposes that Ballincollig be included in the City as a metropolitan town and considers that it will continue to thrive within an appropriate new city local government structure. However, despite its proximity to the city, little Island does not have a significant level of population and so it will remain in the county.
The Minister continued:
“It has taken almost 3 years to get to this position, a position that will allow Cork to have a more appropriate local government structure which is essential to help it reach its full potential and serve the people of both the city and county as effectively as possible. The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Cork Implementation Oversight Group and now call upon the elected members and executive of both councils to embrace the boundary alteration process as a matter of urgency and to provide full and active support for the significant programme of associated implementation actions that lie ahead. I am open to using the statutory procedures in Part V of the Local Government Act 1991 if the local authorities can confirm, as a matter of priority, agreement using this approach. Alternatively I will bring forward primary legislation to implement the boundary alteration, and have received Government approval for this course of action, as necessary”.
Further detailed preparations for the implementation of the boundary alteration will be overseen by the Oversight Group, including details of consequential financial adjustments and arrangements. Financial adjustments and arrangements will also be underpinned by the relevant statutory provisions or instruments.
Commenting on the Group’s boundary report, the Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan said
‘I would like to commend all concerned on their work and having arrived at what appears to be a reasonable settlement in the best interests of Cork.”
The Report and associated documents are attached.
Note for editors
In 2015, an independent Committee was appointed to carry out a review of local government arrangements in Cork City and County, including the boundary of Cork City (which is outdated), and to make recommendations with respect to whether the boundary of the City should be altered or whether Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified. The Committee’s report, which incorporates a minority report, was submitted to the then Minister on 2 September 2015.
The report recommended, based on the position of the majority of the committee, that a unitary authority should be established as the statutory local authority for Cork as a whole. The minority report considered it essential to retain the City Council as a completely separate local authority and took the view that a unified authority would not be able to address adequately the different needs of urban and rural areas.
Both the majority and minority groups on the committee agreed that retention of the status quo in Cork is not a tenable option. It was agreed that the City boundary issue must be addressed appropriately and a substantial Cork metropolitan area defined, without damaging side effects, and local government arrangements must be designed to maximise the economic and social well-being of the City and County.
Cork Expert Advisory Group
The Cork Expert Advisory Group was established in October 2016 to review the recommendations of the Cork Local Government Committee report. The Group was tasked with examining both the majority and minority reports and underlying material and had a mandate to identify and examine a wider range of options for Cork than might have been considered previously.
The Group similarly concluded that the current local government arrangements in Cork are unsustainable. Having evaluated a range of options against relevant criteria, it concluded that, on balance, an expanded City Council area offered the best solution, particularly in terms of the structure of local government and a strong focus on the needs and demands of the metropolitan area, including regeneration, while also recognising the specific service needs of rural areas.
The main recommendations of the Cork Expert Advisory Group report (“the McKinnon report” (April 2017)) were accepted by the then Minister and noted by Government on 13 June 2017; these recommendations included the setting up of the Cork Implementation Oversight Group.
Cork Implementation Oversight Group
The Cork Implementation Oversight Group was established in July 2017 and was assigned general responsibility for overseeing arrangements, in accordance with a detailed Implementation Plan to be completed by the Group, for the alteration of the boundary between the respective areas of jurisdiction of Cork City Council and Cork County Council, in light of the recommendation in the McKinnon report, and to ensure, as far as possible, that such arrangements are progressed effectively throughout the implementation process.
The group has consulted with and worked extensively with both Councils on the identification of the revised boundary and preparation of a detailed implementation plan.