10 April 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Ibec Cork, the group that represents many businesses, today met with the local government review committee and called for the boundary of Cork city to be extended to incorporate the suburbs to create a local authority area of 200,000 people. Additionally, the group warned that now is not the time for Cork City Council and Cork County Council to merge, more must be done to focus on the delivery of local services.
Ibec Cork President and CEO of Irish Mainport Holdings Ltd David Ronayne said “Cork city has underperformed when compared to areas immediately bordering it. A significant contributor to this problem is the fact that local government arrangements have remained unchanged for 50 years. Without a change, there will continue to be uneven growth across the city region. Cork’s size, total population and contribution to the Irish economy rules out a merger between the two local authorities. What we need is a new approach to ensure we’ve a competitive city and an economically strong county. This means the boundary of Cork city should be extended to include its suburbs. Anything larger could seriously undermine the viability of Cork County Council.
“The focus of reform must be on achieving real cost savings. Businesses, as the primary source of income for both authorities, expect no less. A Cork First services strategy should be adopted for the region, irrespective of a boundary change. All local authority services should be examined from the customer’s perspective to see if they could be delivered more effectively. For example, Cork has the second highest household usage of broadband in Ireland and both local authorities should make the region a model of best practice for providing services online. Also, more services such as planning, inspection and economic development should be shared across the city and county.
“The importance of city regions must not be ignored. Cork is competing against city regions at home and abroad for investment and growth. The city requires a modern municipal structure that best supports this.”