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Cabinet Approves New Local Government Structure for Limerick to Boost Local Economic Activity

Mr Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, announced today (28th June 2011) that the Government has decided to implement the main recommendations of the Limerick Local Government Committee (chaired by Mr Denis Brosnan and published in September 2010), involving the creation of a new single local authority to replace the current Limerick City and County Councils. This historic decision will boost local economic activity and create potential savings of over €15 million for the Authority over time.

Minister Hogan said; ‘We are implementing the core elements of the Committee’s recommendations. This decision will allow the Authority to address the social, economic and administrative issues affecting Limerick by the creation of a single local authority under the leadership of a single elected council and single management.’ Benefits of the restructuring include:

1. Reduce costs for Limerick City Businesses. It will be possible to harmonise the rates downwards to the County Council level of €59.91 (City rate is currently €76.46);

2. The Economic Committee will drive economic development by creating cohesion and co-ordinating the local authority with development and enterprise agencies more efficiently;

3. Free up of resources for critical projects such as the revitalisation of Limerick’s city centre, regeneration, and support for enterprise and Gateway development;

4. Help to rebalance the City’s socio-economic profile which is currently skewed by exclusion of certain suburbs;

5. Potential savings of up to €15 million could be realised through merging of staffing and administrative structures and elimination of duplication;

6. Election of the Mayor of the new unitary authority after the 2014 local elections for the full five year term of the new authority;

7. Incorporation of the two Limerick Regeneration Agencies under the new management arrangements in 2012;

8. Membership of the new authority (i.e. after the 2014 local elections) will be appropriately sized in line with similarly populated counties;

9. Create an authority with the scale (population 184,000) and capacity to meet Limerick’s challenges, including social and economic issues;

10. Benefit the entire Mid-West Region, with a strong and successful City acting as a generator of economic and social development;

11. More cohesive and effective political and administrative leadership.

The new unitary authority will come into being following the 2014 local elections. Meanwhile, appropriate management arrangements will operate from early 2012 up to the 2014 elections, including arrangements to oversee the reorganisation process across the two authorities and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to prepare for the establishment of the new authority in mid-2014. Further details will be made available as soon as possible in relation to planning, preparatory work and implementation arrangements.

A variation from the Committee’s recommendation is a decision not to implement the proposed transfer of an area of approximately 5 sq. kilometres from Clare to Limerick.

“This decision to restructure Limerick to a single local authority is among a range of local government reforms which will be implemented in accordance with the Programme for Government. Other local government reform initiatives planned or underway include:

· Review of staffing levels in Dublin City Council;

· Establishment of an independent Implementation Group to progress other relevant recommendations of the Local Government Efficiency Review (report due in five months);

· Development of wider policy proposals to renew and develop the local government system;

· Greater alignment of Local Government and local development in line with the Programme for Government.

“Since taking office, I have consulted on the issue and given careful consideration to the Committee’s recommendations. There is wide agreement on the need for urgent, decisive change in local government in Limerick. The decisions that we have taken will provide for successful transition to much stronger local government for Limerick which is essential to the future success of the City and its region.

“This is a historic decision and it will be important to ensure an effective reorganisation process leading to the smooth and successful completion of this first major change in local government arrangements for many years”, said Minister Hogan.