16 February 2016
By Tom O’Sullivan
Councillor Chris O’Leary, Lord Mayor of Cork today expressed deep disappointment with elements of the Cork Chamber of Commerce Pre Election Manifesto 2016-“Cork’s Call (A Vision for 2021)”.
“Cork Chamber is taking a tired, generic, predictable and scatter-gun approach in their Manifesto document, where they persist with their blinkered campaign to promote implementation of the blatantly flawed Smiddy Report for a single local authority for Cork.”
“The Amalgamation Agenda has been thrown totally off the rails by the Galway Report” said the Lord Mayor. It was reported recently that the Galway Review Report had been submitted to Government in November 2015, recommending that a boundary extension should be made for Galway City. “The Reform process is all over the shop”, continued Cllr. O’ Leary. “Those promoting the amalgamation of Cork Council’s are alarmingly at one with the Civil Servants in their lack of understanding of the strategic importance of cities. The Minister has deliberately kept a lid on the Galway Report, it would appear, and then added to the confusion by recent statements committing to the re-instatement of town councils. Deduce from that what you will.”
The Lord Mayor highlighted the huge potential that a Metropolitan Cork will generate, presenting as it will a defining moment for Cork, a one in 50 year opportunity. “After bearing through a deep recession, Cork is now taking off and is well equipped to drive the growth of the region. I agree with the Chamber that we now need to house the jobs that the City is attracting. But I disagree fundamentally with their support of the Smiddy proposition of strangling the City with a Green Belt and imposing long-distance commutes for the workers that will be needed to sustain Cork’s growth. That is not how to go about presenting the City as an attractive place to live and work. And it is contrary to Government policy on transport and modal share. For Cork, the single biggest priority for the incoming Government must be Housing Supply – social, affordable and rental supply to meet the growing population of the Metropolitan Area”
“It is also quite disturbing to note that the Chamber Manifesto makes no reference at all to the need for the Northern Ring Road, nor indeed to addressing social disadvantage or promoting community development and social inclusion, which are the core of a sustainable development approach. The region’s prosperity is dependent on adopting holistic policies that address the well-being of all sectors of society.”