Pushing the Boundaries East Cork Councillors Reflect On City Extension

By Seamus Whelehan

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It may not be classed as a total invasion by international law but for many it represents nothing but “a raid on the County”.
For over two hours on Monday 12 June Councillors across Cork County dissected the latest report on local government reform.
County Councillors have raised many concerns over the McKinnon report published last Friday 9 June which will see 110,000 new homes added to the City and 50% of the county’s rate base wiped out overnight, an estimated loss of €80 million.
The expert report has recommended a city expansion that would take in Ballincollig, Douglas Rochestown, Glanmire, Little Island, Carrigtwohill and Cork airport.
Cobh, Monkstown, Passage West and Carrigaline would remain in the county.
Under the McKinnon report it’s recommended that the City Council would pay the County €40million per annum over a ten year period to compensate for the loss of Rates revenue and local property tax.
With the population increase Cork City would see its number of Councillors increase while the number in the County would be reduced.
There is also a fear of job losses across the County Council as services are migrated to City Hall.
Concerns have also been raised that areas like Cobh and Midleton would not qualify for LEADER funding as both areas would border the new city.
The new expansion would also see Cork City Hall take control of 2,500 homes planned for Carrigtwohill along the Midleton Cork rail Corridor and a further 5,500 houses set for Monard close to Blarney.
County Mayor Seamus McGrath has said the plan throws up many unanswered questions that require further clarification before the authority can form an opinion.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn leader of Fianna Fail in Cork County said if implemented it will have a devastating effect on rural communities.
“It’s a raid on the County. The large rates base Cork County has built up over the years has been taken and also the household tax.”
He said there was a major concern as to how services in the County will be funded in the future, a sentiment echoed by Labour Cllr Cathal Rasmussen
The Cobh based Cllr has said the new proposal would have a devastating effect on the Great Island.
“Nobody wants Cobh at the moment. We are the one Municipal District being destroyed in this. In two years’ time if this comes in the whole thing is broken up and Cobh is on its own.”
There has been some discussion Cobh will form part of a Harbour Municipal area or that it joins East Cork.
Cllr Rasmussen said if the latter happened it could result in Cobh having no representation and the island would be battling between Midleton and Youghal for limited funding.
Cobh Municipality Chairman Anthony Barry a native of Carrigtwohill said “no locals I have been in contact with welcomed the City council taking over their area.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey said while her party were in favour of an extension, the report threw up a lot of questions and very little answers.
Whereas East Cork Municipality Chairwoman Mary Linehan Foley said “We are proud Corkonians yet it appears they are trying to push Youghal over the border into Waterford.”
She said as it stands services are seriously reduced and feared the boundary extension would be “detrimental” to her home town of Youghal.

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