Cork Chamber expresses concern about the absence of any future merger plans for Cork City and County Council in today’s ‘Action Programme for Effective Local Government’ concern

Cork Chamber today broadly welcomed the local government proposals announced by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, but expressed disappointment at the absence of merger plans for Cork City and County Councils and the lack of emphasis on greater transparency in the roll-out of the new local enterprise offices (LEOs).

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Mr. John Mullins, President, Cork Chamber, said : ‘The decision to reduce the number of local authorities and county councillors is very welcome and it will result in cost-savings but also, supports greater cohesion, accountability and efficiencies in the management and delivery of local services. The increasing emphasis on the role of local government as key leaders in economic, social and community development is also welcome.’ *** *

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However, Mr. Mullins expressed concern about the opportunity lost with the two local authorities in the Cork region: ‘The failure to target a merger of Cork City and Cork County Council is an opportunity lost when limited resources of the region could ultimately be better applied. Services could be effectively provided by one strong local authority to cover over half a million people. The proposal to alter the boundaries of the Cork metropolitan area within an allotted five year time frame and to maintain both City and Council local authorities does not go far enough. In fact it represents the imposition of another arbitrary border in what can be a unified economic region. ’ ****

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Mr. Mullins also highlighted the need for greater transparency in the roll-out of the proposed local enterprise offices: ‘These local enterprise offices which will replace the city and county enterprise boards are dealing with an integral element of the economy, the tax and employment generating SME sector. It is critical that these new structures maintain the appropriate level of support for the SME sector, many of whom are struggling and at risk of closure’.****

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Mr. Mullins concluded by saying “that the announcements today are a very welcome start in a major reform process but there is a lot more possible that can be achieved through the merger of Cork City and Cork County into one Regional Authority for over half a million citizens”

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