17 November 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth
Sinn Féin voted against the Cork City Council Budget for 2016 at a meeting of the local authority last night.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Thomas Gould (pictured above), described the budget as “regressive”,
He told TheCork.ie;
“We could not vote for a Budget that fails to acknowledge a hole of over €700,000. This hole has developed as a result of the government granting a massive rate-break to highly profitable utilities companies at the expense of the citizens of Cork City. And let’s not forget that this will not be a once-off. This rates-break for big companies will be apply annually for the remaining years of this council.
“In such a context, voting for this budget would be endorse the the politics of this government, which has time and again prioritised protecting the wealthy and big business. This has had an adverse affect on the ability of this council to deliver vital services on which the citizens of this city depend so much.
“There are very serious question marks over the budget given that this rate-break was not included in any of the pre-budget discussions between management and councillors. We were also unable to obtain any clarifications regarding the impact that the rates cut could have on the budget into the future.
“It is an insult to the ordinary people of Cork City and the owners of small & medium size businesses who have been struggling through the economic crisis and the austerity policies delivered by this government and Fianna Fáil before them.
“This budget actually sees a decrease of €1.2 in the overall funding available to the City Council in 2016. Since 2012, including this budget, Cork City Council spending on services is down a whopping €15 million.
“There is insufficient funding in both the housing and roads budgets in order to adequately address issues that are constantly being raised by councillors from all parties.
“It is another regressive budget for Cork City.
“We believe that this budget exposes the government’s assertion that we have meaningful economic recovery taking shape. The recovery certainly isn’t being felt in terms of funding and supports for local government.
“The Fine Gael and Labour Party Government has used their series of budgets to starve local authorities of vital funding. This has been part of the coalition’s mission to undermine local government and centralise power.
“Sinn Féin believes in strong local government. A Sinn Féin administration would abolish the unjust family home tax and reintroduce a realistic and fair block-grant from central government. This would provide local authorities with the necessary funding to deliver local services.
“The rates revaluation is just another example of the government’s interference with local democracy. Their approach is centred on penalising local authorities, and stripping of them of their power to deliver services.
“What more could we expect from a government that has put the very existence of this council in jeopardy. Their plans for a merger and the policy of depriving local government of vital finances is all about pushing ordinary people further and further away from the decision-making process.”