Can I thank the CE, the Finance Officer John Hallahan and Cllr Martin, the chair of the Finance Functional Committee for their work on this draft annual budget book.
History is being made this evening as this marks the last budget of over 60 years of the city in its current size. But within the word history are the words Hi Story. And the realities of our future story are mapped out in this document this evening.
At the 2020 budget meeting next November 2019 the members of the Council will budget for 210,000 people and a city five times more in size with more challenges and more calls for funding. This City is ready to take on the challenge of an expanded city. I firmly believe our directors of the various service directorates are ready for the transition and added work. I might clash with them at times and call for more from them on certain elements, but I always respect their frankness and honesty on what can and can’t be done whilst outlining their pride of their staff and their vision of the future.
Reading through the various sections you can see the strengths of our directorates and the ongoing work programmes – the 30 per cent of our income spent on Housing with several hundred social housing constructs coming on stream in the next two years – 17 per cent on roads with several construction and enhancement projects ongoing.
I have been vocal that our staff at the housing desk everyday at reception, community wardens and homeless outreach team are collecting the voices of citizens and acting upon them for those who need support in the accommodation sector. I do believe that once the city expands that much work needs to be done on where we can build mixed housing projects.
On roads, I believe firmly that the city has seen nothing yet in terms of traffic problems as the economic bounce continues to reach citizens on the ground. I am content that we are on the right track regarding our mobility measures but I am going to take this opportunity this evening to re-iterate strongly my call for more parking incentives and marketing measures. It has also become clear that there has been a break down in communication between the small trader and the Council, where much work needs to be done to resolve it.
When you read through service divisions such as water services – you can see the extent of the drainage operation and maintenance, you can see read about the economic development programmes and the depth of the EU programmes we are part of.
I have been vocal that this city needs to be more aware of its southern capital position and being a European Regional Hub. So I am proud that members of staff have got stuck into a range of Interreg projects from start-ups to social innovation plus from a budget perspective the added funding the city can garner from EU urban funding projects.
In environmental services, a glance through the draft budget you can find out about waste planning, recycling measures, the great work of the Lifetime Lab Education Programme and Fire Department. I think sometimes we don’t always state that this is a budget not only about services but a budget for those who carry out tasks and who want their wish list answered.
In recreation and amenity, you can read about our tourism projects in Elizabeth Fort and Shandon, the myriad of festivals, arts projects, libraries projects, capital park projects. I have been vocal to get Tramore Valley Park open plus have a strong Urban Forestry programme. I am happy that we are edging more and more towards them.
And you can also read about agriculture, health & welfare and aspects such as our ongoing work on the expansion of the boundary.
Indeed, from this budget document you can see the range of work that Cork City Council does to make a living city – it is clearly outlined in this document this evening. It is a very difficult task to respond to the myriad and myriad of asks of customers and citizens. Those in the County suburbs worried about inclusion in the city can from this document see clearly that Cork City Council has a vision. We have the ambition. We have the work ethic. Ultimately, using our own wordage, We Are Cork. However, with that accolade comes much work and responsibility especially with the new canvass of satellite county areas entering Cork City next year.