19 Jan 2015

Cork City Boundary Review, 2015

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Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Mr Alan Kelly TD, has today appointed a statutory committee to review the Cork city boundary and other local government arrangements in Cork.

The Minister sees a clear case for extending the Cork City boundary to encompass a wider metropolitan area and has appointed an independent group to review the boundary and examine whether the local authority structures should be merged.

Following a meeting with the mayors and chief executives of Cork City & County, the Minister said:

“From the point of view of coherent development, it’s important that both the city and county are not held back in terms of economic progress and resolving the boundary issue permanently is part of that. This is about selecting the most appropriate system of local government for Cork city and County and ensuring proper democratic representation. Issues such as commercial rates, planning and unnecessary duplication of administration are holding Cork back and need to be addressed.

“The environs of the Cork city which is not part of the Cork City Council area for local government purposes, has a population of 79,000 people so there is a clear need to have an independent overview of local Government structures in Cork,” stated Minister Kelly.

The review aligns with the Government’s overall approach to Local Government Reform which has seen changes to local administration in Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford.

A statutory committee will be convened shortly which will be tasked to review the local authority structures in Cork within nine months and will then be dissolved. The group includes leading academics from UCC, a former county manager and will be chaired by former Beamish & Crawford CEO, Alf Smiddy.

The group will be established under section 28 of the Local Government Act 1991 which precludes elected representatives from participating and will act independently. Minister Kelly stated that he was delighted that people of such strong calibre were willing to come forward on a ‘pro-bono’ basis and assist in designing appropriate structures for Cork city and county.   “The option of unifying the city and county structures in Cork should also be considered in view of the potential benefits such as strengthening local government, elimination of administrative duplication, improved service delivery, greater efficiency, economies of scale, and more cohesive and effective economic development,” said Minister Kelly “I have full confidence that this committee will propose the structures that it believes will serve the best interests of the people of Cork City and County. They have an independent mandate and will be completing this exercise in nine months. I want local authorities to become a key engine for economic growth and resolving issues such as city and county boundaries will bring certainty to many aspects of local Government in Cork,”

In accordance with sections 32 and 33 of the Local Government Act 1991, the Committee is required to carry out an objective review of local government arrangements in Cork City and County, including the boundary of Cork City, the local government areas and the local authorities for such areas, and to prepare a report making recommendations for improvements in such arrangements with respect to: –  

(a) whether the boundary of Cork city should be altered and if so, recommendations with respect to the alteration of the boundary; or

(b) whether Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified; and

(c) any further related matters on which the Minister may request the Committee to make recommendations during the course of its review.  

The Committee is comprised of the following members:          

Mr Alf Smiddy (Chair);       

Mr Tom Curran;        

Professor Dermot Keogh;        

Mr John Lucey, S.C.; and                 

Dr Theresa Reidy.  

Appointments, based on knowledge of the areas and expertise in local government, are on a “pro bono” basis, with no payments apart from any necessary travel/subsistence expenses. The Committee will report later in the year.

The full terms of reference for the group are available below and will be available on the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government’s website: http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/BoundaryCommitteeReports/

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