Monday 21st September 2015
- Cork Local Government Committee recommends amalgamation of Cork City and County Councils.
Since the publication of the Report of the Cork Local Government Committee I have read and considered its proposals. Regrettably there is little evidence to suggest that recommendations to amalgamate Cork City and County Councils will deliver for the people of Cork. Reform of local government should deliver an outcome that will provide a platform for Cork to become a truly eminent European destination for business and tourism.
Yes, we need to change local government in Cork but I remain to be convinced by these proposals. People and communities must be at the centre of evidence based change. The report contains a number of contradictions and lacks substantive evidence to support its recommendations.
Far from delivering one council the report seems to be creating additional administrative layers and moving decisions further away from people and communities. What is proposed is three ‘divisions’ which closely resemble councils as they are currently structured, it is as if the report envisages three individual councils, not one. Each of these will be subsidiary to the overarching ‘unitary authority’ that won’t be directly elected.
The report recognises the importance of second cities, but then it fails to provide a structure for a second city. Instead it relegates Cork to a municipal district. It cites difficulties in moving staff between councils as a reason for amalgamation. Yet it fails to address the hurdles in merging two large organisations. It recognises the importance of local government in supporting communities yet it proposes to move local government in Cork further away from communities.
We should be confident of successful outcomes before proceeding with reforms. While the report puts forward an outline plan it lacks detail and specifics. Given these shortcomings and that the Committee making the recommendation split as close to 50/50 as is possible, the only definitive outcome is that a lot more work is needed before any change is implemented.