All posts by Marcia D'Alton

Community Fund Scheme 2014

The Community Fund scheme covers 2 types of support scheme:

  • Community Fund: This is aimed at local organisations who wish to undertake infrastructural projects costing €20k or more which will improve the range and/or quality of community based facilities within their area, e.g. community halls, sporting facilities, etc.
  • Community Contracts: Aimed at community groups who are willing to work with the Council in carrying out works on local projects that would enhance the area.

Applications were assessed in accordance with the electoral areas in place at the time of the closing of the date of application for the scheme (2nd May 2014).  The following allocations were recommended and approved by Members:

Link to Community Fund file …

Notes from the meeting of the Southern Committee, 21/07/2014

Present: Maurice Manning (Corporate Services), Declan Daly (Director of Services, Environment), Ted O’Leary (Senior Executive Officer)


Allocation of Community Fund 2014

Details of grants awarded under the Community Fund and Community Contracts were circulated to Members.   There were 46 applications in total, 16 of which were better for Amenity Fund scheme.  9 applications were not deemed appropriate.  There were 6 applications for community contracts.  All were successful.

The Amenity Grant Scheme will have a closing date of 30th September.

Will circulate applicants who weren’t successful.  The primary reason for not providing funding to some groups is that they just don’t have sufficient matching funding.

In response to Cllr Harris: Douglas Hall – there is already significant funding in place to enable that project to take place.

In response to Cllr McCarthy (FG): The Midleton My Place project has had significant support from CCC and Midleton TC in the past so was not supported this time.  The fire station building was belonging to CCC originally.  Midleton TC gave the project €70k.  This was well in excess of what would normally be granted through community fund.  Cllr McCarthy agreed, but said they got this funding through TC.  Also pointed out that the My Place project had to purchase the fire station building from CCC.

Cllr Buckley (SF): Is it possible for Midleton My Place to go back in for funding next year?  Once the Town Council gave all its funding, the assets all fell back to CCC.

Maurice Manning:  Any project can apply any year.

Environment Directorate Report

Ted O’Leary read through the Environment Directorate Report.

There are 53,000 registered septic tanks in County Cork.  There are probably 58,000 in total.  CCC has been allocated only 99 inspections up to the end of June because the national programme is still in pilot project phase.  When it moves from pilot, the number of inspections required will likely jump.
Questions

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Wants specifics on air and noise non-compliances.  What about Slatty Bridge transfer to Irish Water?  Does CCC generate any renewable energy?

Cllr Moynihan (FF): Septic tank inspection programme.  The 61% failure rate is high.  The 15 systems with the major non-compliances almost mask the other problems, eg the roof water issues will need significant sorting out.  The fact that there is only 17% addressed at this stage suggests people are struggling with the scheme.  What figures are available for grants?  Will the CCC be involved in getting figures for that?

Dog licences – lifetime licence.  Cost will be an issue for many people.  What efforts are being made to promote this?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  P5 – pH indicators telling us that there are exceedences.  In Crookstown there is lead piping from mains into the houses.  If acidic pH, this would make problems worse.

P 10 – 2 inspectors for septic tanks now.  How many more staff will be needed when the programme kicks in?  At risk areas within the zones.  Could we be informed as to where these are?

Macroom wwtp non compliances?  Talk about these.

Private wastewater treatment plant non-compliances – what about penalties?

Cllr Creed (FG): Quality of the water in Crookstown is abysmal.  Complaints come in all the time.  We have had reports saying safe but residents are still worried.  Is there any plan for putting in new system?

Septic tanks – There is a grant scheme in place for septic tanks that fail.  Fail rate may be 61% but once the desludging figures are taken out, the failure rate is much lower.  Thinks public wants to get on this scheme.

Cllr Canty (FG): People are on all the time about the taste of the water.  Trying to kill the taste with additives.  Has to be a fierce upgrading of Inniscarra.  With low level in the lake at present, you can see the growth of algae in the water.

How many crews do we have working on the ground at present in relation to repairs?  People were out for 3 days on the Model Farm Road with no available crew to sort them out.  Water will discolour when reconnected.  Are people going to have to pay for this discoloured water?

Fluoride issue has to be dealt with.

Dog licences – can something be done in the Regional Park in Ballincollig?  People open their doors and let the dogs out.  We have signs up but people are not obeying them.  Dog wardens were out there for a few mornings and then disappeared again.  People asking for permanent dog warden.

Welcomes Green Schools programme.

Cllr Harris (Ind): Domestic waste service handed to CountryClean.  The number of people falling through the cracks is getting worse and worse.  Any emergency service part of CountryClean contract?

Fluoride in water is indeed becoming a major issue.

Cllr Barry (FG): Littering and fines – are the rates the same as last year?

Horses – 53 trips where no horses were collected.  Why?  Notes €450 reimbursed from the Dept but the service is costing €710 per horse.

Cllr Conway (Ind): How often are inspections carried out in municipal wastewater treatment plants?

Cllr Forde (FG):  Clean up jobs – do we have a cost of those?  Knows very difficult to catch these dumpers so fines income not great in this area.  People need to be made aware of what this costs.  People who are dumping are costing each and every one of us money.

Public drinking water – fluoridation – review due before end of year.  Guidelines say that we MAY have fluoridation.  What is the current position in relation to CCC on that

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  In 2009 the DoE asked that all local authorities make water quality data available on their websites.  To be current to within a month.  Most recent on CCC website is Nov/Dec 2013.  Will this be a CCC responsibility going forward or will it be transferred to Irish Water?

Explain why 5 Blue Flags were lost on South Cork beaches last year, even though weather was good?

How does the CCC Agricultural Inspection Programme dovetail with that of the Department of Agriculture?

Private wastewater discharge licences – clear that not all visits involve sampling.  Also high % of non-compliances.  What parameters are generally non-compliant?

Civic amenity sites – would like figures for tonnages going back 12 years.  Believes charging structure at civic amenity site gates may have affected their popularity and is contributing to fly tipping.  Would like to investigate.

Horses – how many spaces do you have for horses in the pound?  How long are they kept alive?

Cllr Buckley (FG):  Al indicator in Midleton.  Al tastes bad.  How does Al get into the system?

Cllr McCarthy (FG): Recyclables – there are a few bring sites in the area that are run by CCC but Whitegate doesn’t appear to have those facilities.  Have tried to get in contact with Liam Singleton but he doesn’t seem to do the phone.  Maybe email?
Answers (Ted O’Leary)

David Keane (County Engineer) is in charge of water services directorate.  The environment directorate is involved in monitoring only.  So the questions on crews, fluoride, etc. must be answered by the water services directorate.

To Cllr O’Laoghaire: Noise and air pollution – licences issued under the Air Pollution Act relate to emissions from chimney stacks.  Also includes certain industries who are licensed for the purposes of noise.  Main involvement in relation to noise is generally responding to noise pollution complaints.

Doesn’t know if CCC generates electricity.  Will ask Pat Farrell, SEE of the Energy Unit to reply directly to Cllr O’Laoghaire.

To Cllr Moynihan: Non-compliances are not straightforward for householders to deal with but the timescale given to householders to address the problem is quite long.  Relatively early days – inspection programme started only in the latter half of last year.  Usually 12 months allowed to address issues raised.

Is grants scheme available to people who have been inspected and registered?  Yes, to a max of €4.5k.  CCC processes applications but doesn’t have data on what is awarded.  Will include this in reports going forward if required.

Dog licences – not aware that lifetime licence is promoted over the annual licence.

To Cllr O’Grady: Septic tanks – there are more than 2 staff doing inspections.  It is being undertaken by staff in agricultural team.  The director will have to see how many staff it will need when the full programme kicks in.  Currently we have had teams of 6 people going out.  It will be a slow and person-intensive process.  Takes on average half a day to do an inspection.

High risk zones – we are guided by EPA guidance documents.  This document is on public record.

Macroom wwtp – cannot comment on operational specifics.

Taste issues and repair crews – for David Keane.

In response to Cllr Canty: Dog fouling in Regional Park – dog wardens have been assigned to the area for periods in the past.  Will take it up with the veterinary dept to see can it be patrolled in the short-term.

In response to Cllr Harris: There was a transitionary waiver scheme in place in the initial phase of the tranfer of waste collection to County Clean.  That is no longer available.  The waste collection business was actually sold to Country Clean, not outsourced.  Company said that they would honour waivers for 2 years.  This is long gone.

In response to Cllr Barry: No information to hand on number of litter fines.

In response to Cllrs Barry and D’Alton on horses – vet safety dept who oversee this legislation.  Recession has had impact on horses collected.  Numbers this year are up over last year so remains a problem.

Number of spaces in horse pound – does not know but has sufficient capacity to deal with problem at present.  Finance does come into this because subvention from Dept of Agriculture does not cover.  Doesn’t know specific time period for keeping horses.  Relates to whether people reclaim them or rehome them.

In response to Cllr Forde: Clean up figures not to hand.

Declan Daly: Last Council passed a motion saying they didn’t want fluoridation.  Wrote to Dept of Health.  The Dept of Health wrote back saying that the national national position had not changed and so the CCC went on fluoridating.

CCC operates as agents to Irish Water.  If we get an instruction from Irish Water to add fluoride, we have to.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: 5 Blue Flags lost – criteria relating to beaches has tightened up.  Last year although the weather was good, the non-compliances were caused by heavy rainfall earlier in the year.  Some of the Blue Flags were lost because of municipal wastewater treatment plants in the area.  These issues take time to address.  Also need longer clean period now before you can requalify.  Need 12 months or more before you get Blue Flag status back.

Private wastewater treatment plants – sizes of commercial activity vary and parameters are specific to activity undertaken.  Monitor by reference to programme that we set out at the start of the year and communicate programme and results to the EPA.  LIcence holders frequently required to do their own monitoring as well.  Will give more details on private wwtps next time round.

Civic Amenity Sites – tonnage figures are available, although they have been somewhat effected by the economic downturn.

Irish Water will make information available about public water quality.  Not CCC any more.

In response to Cllr Buckley: Al is added in salt form to purify the water.  The coagulant settles out so this is where Al in the water may be coming from.
Supplementary Questions

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Noise questions asked were specifically in relation to Ringaskiddy.  Also Slatty Bridge?

Cllr Moynihan (FF): Very low rate of 17% where people have been able to do work on their septic tanks.  These are surely the quick fix.  People are finding it difficult to find the several hundred euro to get the desludging done.  Why are we only getting a half year figure?  Rate of septic tank inspections seems to be going down, not up.

Cllr Barry (FG):  Litter fines – rates?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  35 non-compliant samples – is there a penalty involved?

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Previous minutes indicated Guidance Document on Septic Tank National Inspection Plan was distributed to Members.  Can new members have this?  Also how long before septic tanks needing addressing are rechecked?

Also explain interaction between CCC Farm Inspection Programme and Dept of Agriculture programme?

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind):  How many litter wardens are in East Cork and County?  There are major issues with fly tipping.

Cllr Cullinane (Ind):  Confirms a letter went from this Council on fluoridation.  We made a decision to send that letter back again to say that we weren’t happy.  Understood from the water briefing that we still have role to play.  European Food Safety Authority is putting pressure on at moment.  Quality of Irish exported food is paramount.  It will be affected by fluoridation.  We need to keep the pressure on.   Need to clarify exactly what our role is as CCC.


Answers (Ted O’Leary)
In response to Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Have to check about Slatty Bridge with Pat Farrell.

In response to Cllr Moynihan:  Wasn’t suggesting that people didn’t find dealing with septic tank programme difficult but was showing that people are being given time to deal with any issues raised.

In response to Cllr Barry:  Rates of litter fines are set under the Litter Acts.  There is a range of minimum and maximum fines depending on the offence.

In response to Cllr O’Grady:  Non-compliant samples – don’t have specifics on the 35 non-compliances.  They are followed up by way of enforcement.  Will provide more detail on the nature of the non-compliances for the next report.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: Agricultural programme – there has been a lot of interaction between the Dept of Ag and the CCC to ensure sure that there is no duplication.  Is a protocol in place to ensure communications place between the two agencies.  Dept of Ag try to structure their programme to match that of CCC.  We had to reduce our Farm Inspection Programme to support the Septic Tank system.

In response to Cllr Linehan-Foley:  There are 3 litter wardens across the entire county.  But the old Town Councils would have had litter wardens who performed traffic warden duty also.  These personnel are being retained, although their jurisdictions have been expanded.  All the traffic wardens are assigned functions under the Litter Pollution Act.

In response to Cllr O’Laoghaire: Noise – By and large for staff resource reasons we stay out of residential to residential complaints.  That is in keeping with EPA guidance.  Predominantly complaints we deal with relate to commercial undertakings.  We try to leave enforcement as being the very last option.  We try to substantiate the claim.  Take it up with the alleged offender.  We find in general that the majority of offenders take steps to address/mitigate the issue.  Noise is a very subjective thing.  No specific limits.  The law of nuisance applies.  To prove a nuisance, you have to have a householder prepared to stand up in court.  Householders do not always want to do this.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: Environment Directorate has scientist with expertise in noise monitoring.  Have taken in consultants on occasion to do independent monitoring.  Didn’t check the Ringaskiddy record before we came out.  Haven’t had a significant number of complaints about noise from Ringaskiddy.

 

NOTICES OF MOTION
by Councillor Noel Collins

(i) “Council report on what powers, if any, are in place to take action where houses in residential areas are left unoccupied for years and cause and great nuisance and dampness to neighbours, in view of the fact that the derelict sites legislation cannot be currently used if the house is basically intact.”

(ii) “Resulting from the major increase in population figures in the Midleton region, Council report if the capacity of the Reservoir in Broomfield is adequate to meet the demand and what proposals, if any, are envisaged to expand the Reservoir. ”

Maurice Manning: In relation to motion 2, CCC recognises the importance of extending the water main to Midleton.  Determined to have this reincluded in the capital programme.  This will be required for Midleton development.  CCC has contacted Irish Water to make sure it goes on their programme.

Notes from the Ballincollig – Carrigaline Municipal District meeting, 21st July 2014

Present: Kevin O’Regan (Municipal District Officer), Maurice Manning (Director of Services), Madeline Healy (Area Engineer, Carrigaline Area Roads Office)

Chair: Cllr Deirdre Forde


Report on Douglas Woollen Mills Car Park

Cork County Council has notified the owner of the site that they will be terminating the lease.  The lighting, CCTV, kiosk, etc are to be removed in an orderly way.  The site was unsuccessful as a car park.

Cllr O’Laoghaire: Some business owners said that they were afraid to use the car park.

Cllr Collins: That particular car park wouldn’t have been used even if the car parking was for nothing.  The area was a problem.  The fact that it was paid parking meant that it was even less attractive.  The distance from the main street in Douglas was also a huge problem.

Cllr Forde: Such a pity it wasn’t a success.  People did not want to walk.  Accept may have felt unsafe at nighttime.  Entrance wasn’t ideal.  The trial is a cost to be borne – we must accept that.

Cllr D’Alton: It is such a shame that this didn’t work.  There clearly is a demand for long-term parking in Douglas.  The roads closer to the city are destroyed with cars during the day from people parking to get the bus.

Maurice Manning: The need for long term parking was identified as one of a package of measures for control of parking in Douglas.  Demand for long-stay was identified.  Believes the demand is still there and if a suitable alternative can be found, they are happy to look at it.  There is no penalty for getting out of the lease.

Cllr Harris:  Is there any commercial benefit to the publicans in the area for taking it over?

Cllr Forde: Has spoken to publicans.  Trouble is, it’s owned by someone else so we can’t very well offer it to anyone else.  CCC is only a tenant.  People just didn’t want to use it.  When the bridge into the city is erected (to Kinsale Road) it might have come into its own a little more.

Kevin O’Regan: Will ask Peter O’Donoghue to get figures on how much has been spent.

To consider the following Notices of Motion in the name of Cllr. Seamus McGrath:

“To seek approval from the committee to instigate the formal process for amending the Douglas Pay Parking Bye Laws as follows:
a) To introduce a system whereby the first hour of parking is free of charge.
b) To allow residents within the Douglas pay parking area to park within the same time limit zone as their property is located, by virtue of their parking permit”.
c) That parking charges would not apply after 6pm as opposed to 6.30pm.

Cllr McGrath: How do we go about amending the bye-laws.  Traders and business people have a huge problem with the system of pay parking currently in Douglas.  It is a deterrent for people going into the area.  Traders are competing with shopping centres which are providing free parking.

Cllr Desmond.  Lives in Douglas.  Sees the effect it is having on the businesses.  Douglas is paying the price for what was badly handled day one. This issue of pay parking went to the SPC 7 months ago now for deliberation.  There has been no progress.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  We spoke to businesses locally.  Very concerned with the impact on them.  Also concern in terms of how it is being managed.  Also spoke in support of people being able to park outside their own homes.

Cllr D’Alton:  Supports very strongly what the previous members have said.  Also from Douglas and can speak personally of how impossible the pay parking makes doing business in the village.  Reads from the Local Government Reform Act which states the powers of the municipal districts (MDs).  Clearly states that pay parking is something the MD can decide for itself.  So can see no reason why the CE wants us to wait while the SPC works up a countywide policy.

Cllr Collins: 3 different situations in 3 different urban areas of this MD.  Carrigaline has no pay parking, Ballincollig has more leniency and Douglas has a very strict regime.  Suggests that we need an overall approach and thinks we need to agree a strategy for all the 3 towns.  Some people look on pay parking positively because they believe that the money collected returns services to their towns as it did in the days of Town Councils.

Cllr Canty: In Ballincollig, there is 1 hour free on the main street, 3 hours free in the car park.  Have traffic warden.  Will have to look at it right across the municipal authority area.  Then we have to go to the Council with it once we have decided amongst ourselves.  Some of the money is supposed to go back to the area it was raised.  Traffic warden is brilliant.  Ballincollig is happy the way things are.  Only problem is, the regime tends to drive long term parkers off into the estates.

Cllr Harris: Very well thought out motion.  Totally disagrees with Canty and Collins that we have to do a pay parking scheme across the board.  Douglas is like living in a police state.  Fines are a joke.  €60 of a fine off people on €200/week.  Mothers trying to drop off kids, drop back stuff.  Fine increases if you don’t pay.  No point in having a money spinner if it is going to cause that pressure on people.  The fining system doesn’t define who has income and who doesn’t.

Cllr O’Donnabhain: Residents are now being prosecuted for contravention of the bye-laws.  Have to address this.

Cllr Forde: Big issue around Douglas has been a period of free grace.  Has no issue with the 3 points that Cllr McGrath has raised.  Don’t know whether we can decide today.  St Columba’s terrace is happy – they can access their houses.  So it is bringing some benefits.

Maurice Manning: Members are familiar with all of the reports that have been given about pay parking.  Unanimous view amongst the members that how it operates in Douglas needs to be reviewed.  CE asked about where the responsibility lay.  Legislation is very clear.  If pay parking bye-laws are to be amended, Cllr D’Alton is correct and the Act says it will be the MD who will do it.  But the DoE has brought in Regulations since to support the Act and CE thinks that pay parking would be one of those issues to which the Regulations refers which gives rise to inconsistencies.  If we want to send it to CPG we can or else we can wait.

Cllr Desmond: Where is the consistency element starting and ending?  Within our own MD, we have inconsistencies?  Does Douglas have to pay the price whilst we wait to iron it out?  If something is not working as in the case of the Woollen Mills, we pull out.  This is not working either.  People already affected by flooding and got no rebate on rates.

Cllr McGrath: This is a test of the MD.  We were told that parking bye-laws were one of the key issues.  Propose that we instigate the formal process.  Thinks overall county wide review is a flawed process anyway.  Thinks would be impossible to get a solution that fits all situations.  Not inconsistent at all.  We’re trying to relax the Douglas parking situation, thereby creating consistency.

Cllr Harris:  Doesn’t understand the CE’s opinion.  Would not try to second guess people in Ballincollig.  Why would they try to do the same to people of Douglas.  There is an atmosphere of intimidation in Douglas, it is a no go area.

Cllr Collins: Agrees with Cllr McGrath.  Have to force the issue.  Maybe by putting it before the SPC in September, we are forcing the CE’s hand.  It’s not just because of pay parking that places are closing down.  It is economic reality as well.

Cllr Canty: I proposed way back that it would go to SPC.  What Cllr McGrath has suggested is just rational.  Will be January by the time it comes onto the agenda.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Too much is being made of consistency.  Nobody mentioned Passage and Togher when they were listing out the towns in the MD.  There are different needs across all three areas.

Maurice Manning: The SPC was asked to develop a set of guidelines across the County.  It will be back on their agenda when they meet in September.  It is a separate issue as to where the guidelines will be implemented.  The guidance that is being developed is about where pay parking is at present.

Cllr Harris: Why should we refer it to the CPG?

Maurice Mannning:  CE saw it on the agenda and said it would be inconsistent if we passed it here.  Accept or refer to CPG.

Cllr O’Donnabhain: Motion refers to what is current and happening.

Cllr D’Alton:  Cannot understand how when bottom up approach has been recognised all over Europe as being the most sustainable approach to local decision making that we have to wait for policy to come to us from the top.  Better to decide what our agreed policy is and present it to the CE, not wait for the SPC.

Cllr Collins agrees we should put it on the agenda.

Maurice Manning:  If we pass the motion today, it goes to the CPG.  The CPG adjudicates and reports back to the MD members.  IF the CPG accepts what we say, then it comes back to us for decision.  If the CPG agrees with the CE, then we’ll have to wait for a  countywide policy.  It is true that pay parking is a MD function but the Act has been developed by the Regulations.  But pay parking cannot be introduced in any towns unless the MD introduces it.

Cllr O’Donnabhain: Motion looks to modify an existing situation.  What are the CE’s powers to veto a motion passed here?

Agreement that it would go to the CPG.

(ii) “This committee requests that contact be made with Utility Companies to remove disused poles in Shanbally Village”.

Madeline Healy: Doesn’t think there is any issue with that.  MD Committee will write.

(iii) “Given that residents in Douglas affected by the 2012 flooding incident are now paying significantly higher Insurance premiums, to request a written report from the Council in response to this unjustified situation”.

Cllr McGrath: Has been contacted by residents in St Columba’s Terrace.  Their insurance premiums are significantly higher this year than before the flood event.

Maurice Manning: There is a study of the Ballybrack Catchment underway.  If there are proposals arising out of that, CCC will convey the details to insurance companies.

Cllr Forde: Insurance premiums fall due at different times and this is one of the problems.  CE says that if an insurance premium jumps dramatically, to refer it to him.  While there are court cases ongoing as a result of the flooding, reports cannot be accessed.  Manager said at the time that CCC would contact the Insurance Federation if it was necessary.  He said he would also give assurance of ongoing flood management measures and maintenance by CCC.  Manager did advise that the Douglas flooding was a one-off event.

Suggested CCC would renew contact with the insurance federation to try to reduce premiums.

Picnic tables in Passage West

Cllr Murphy: A proposal to install three picnic tables was passed by Passage West Town Council.  Then we agreed after the residents complained that we would settle for two.  What is happening?

Kevin O’Regan: One resident quite vociferous and says would be willing to take legal action should the picnic tables go in opposite their residence.  Some residents opposite the second location have concerns there too.  If we go ahead it could end up costing the Council a lot of money in defending a court action.

Cllr O’Laoghaire: This location is the best asset Passage has.  Thinks we shouldn’t be overriding the decision of Passage West Town Council.  We need to endorse the decision taken by the Town Council.

There was a great deal of discussion on this issue because it has been contentious locally.  The decision taken by the Town Council was taken in good faith and it was believed that the picnic tables would enhance the area.  But when residents heard of the proposal, they became very concerned and made these concerns known.  The Town Council decided to go ahead with the proposal anyway.

Although Cllrs D’Alton, McGrath and Forde suggested caution and going through a process of consultation on the issue because of the concerns raised by local residents about potential anti-social behaviour, because Cllr Murphy proposed that the tables should be installed and Cllr O’Laoghaire seconded, the meeting concluded that the picnic tables will go ahead.

Marmullane Tennis Club site, Passage West

Cllr Murphy asked what was happening to this site.  It is becoming overgrown again.  There were supposed to have been grand plans drawn up.  So where are they at?

Cllr D’Alton explained that the plans are still there but that the County Council had applied for Sports Capital Funding to obtain sufficient money to go ahead. Cllr Forde said that the site had not been granted funding – the allocations have been made.  Maurice Manning said that none of the Cork County Council projects were awarded funding this year.

Cllr D’Alton said that Cork County Council had taken this project away from the community.  It was a landmark project and they said they wanted to run it.  The community has asked several times could we even run it together in the hope of getting it off the ground but the answer has always been no.

Maurice Manning: Cork County Council is still committed to the project, it is just that funding is the problem.

Derelict sites

Cllr D’Alton asked about derelict sites.  A report on these will be presented to the MD quarterly.

Other

Maurice Manning:  Note that any proposals for economic development should come through the MD.  As the council is currently structured, Economic Development is a county-wide budget.  Whether that will develop to funding streams for specific MDs will have to be seen in Budget 2015.  There is a provision for general allocation for MDs.  If these isn’t a specific budget at local level, that is not to say that there isn’t a similar budget for each MD at a county wide level.  The members will determine what system of funding in this area comes to MDs after the budget.  There will be some discretionary spend at local level.

Cllr Forde recommends that all councillors should think about how we would like to see the MDs evolving.   There is scope within the Act to develop them more.  Thinks MD can be quite powerful.  Good time to press the importance of the Municipal District when we are having our individual meetings with the CE.

Madeline Healy introduces Don O’Sullivan, the chief engineer in the Ballincollig Area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port of Cork planning application discussed at full Council meeting

The County Council Chief Executive’s assessment of the Port of Cork’s planning application was circulated to all Members on Wednesday of last week.  It was disappointingly but unsurprisingly in full support of the planning application.

I was particularly disappointed that the CE’s report did not, in my opinion, reflect any concern for the effect the proposed development at the port in Ringaskiddy might have on the other multi-faceted benefits that Cork Harbour offers.  It is acclaimed as one of the potential tourism jewels in the county, marine-based recreation continues to grow ever more in popularity, it is surrounded by designated scenic routes, it has a highly sensitive landscape of designated national importance and this area of the Lower Harbour is home to some 30,000 people.  The report spoke of the economic benefits of the Port’s move as presented in the planning application, but it did not mention the socio-economic benefits of all the other uses which the Harbour offers and is developing.

I prepared an assessment for the Members to highlight what I perceived to be important topics for consideration that remained unaddressed by the CE’s report.  I did not suggest that the Port should not move to the Lower Harbour, but merely that we, as Members, had a duty to alert An Bord Pleanala to the fact that we believed the report to be incomplete in the context of assessment of the impacts of the proposed development.  The debate in the  Chamber was recorded as part of the Strategic Infrastructure Process for the benefit of An Bord Pleanala.

I was very grateful and relieved when the Members agreed to append my report to that of the CE for sending to An Bord Pleanala as a reflection of the Members concerns for full and just impact assessment.

Meeting of Cork County Council, 23rd June 2014

These are my notes from the above meeting.  Although they reflect the content of the meeting to the best of my ability, they are subject to whatever inaccuracies may be due to my typing, hearing and interpretation …

Meeting of Cork County Council
Council Chamber, 23/06/2014

1. Confirmation of Minutes of Annual General Meeting of the Council held on 6th June 2014

Minutes of AGM – Cllr N Collins (Ind) wants his name to be noted as dissenting to signing the minutes of the AGM.  He said there was an irregularity in voting rights.  There were 3 contenders and where there are 3, a minimum of 2 votes should  be taken.

A FG representative agreed that it was incorrect and morally wrong that the father of the house should be treated in this way.  Cllr Collins was defeated by just one vote.  He also wishes to dissent.

Sean O’Callaghan advised the Chamber that Standing Order No. 50 dictated how the procedure would be taken.  The grouping system did not apply because the selection was for membership of a committee, not for the election of mayor.

Mayor: Said that standing orders were followed.  Cllr Desmond (FF) proposed and Cllr McGrath (FF) seconded.

2.  Confirmation of Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 9th June, 2014

Confirmed and seconded.

3.  Votes of Sympathy
Votes of Sympathy (if any) to (i) the relatives of members or employees of the Council (ii) dignitaries of Church or State (iii) members of the old IRA and Cumann na mBan

Cllr Pat Buckley’s father.
Another.

The Council observed a minute’s silence because today is the 29th anniversary of Air India tragedy.

4.  Disposal of properties
Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
(a) Disposal of land at Scrahanard, Clondrohid, Macroom, Co. Cork
(b) Disposal of 47 Springfield Park, Cobh, Co. Cork
(c) Disposal of land at Knockanhill, Chapel Road, Kilworth, Co. Cork

All agreed

5.  Vocational Educational Amendment Act 2001
Ratification of the appointment of members of Cork County Council to the Education and Training Board

Mayor needed proposer and seconder for ratification of members proposed at the AGM.

6.  Local Government Act 2001
Appointment of a Member from each Municipal District to the Association of Irish Local Government (voting rights at AILG annual meeting)

Eight party representatives to the AILG were called out.  These were already agreed prior to the AGM.

Appointment of 3 of the above 8 Members as permanent delegates (5 years) to the Standing Policy Committee of the AILG

Three of these 8 were agreed to go forward to the Standing Policy Committee.

7. Western Committee
“That this Council would clarify whether or not the introduction of paid parking is a reserved function of each Municipal District.”

This was an issue that came up at the Western Committee.  Pay parking has been very contentious around the county and members have a desire to address it through the Municipal District Committees (MDCs).  Clarity was sought from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Cllr Carroll (FF):  To not be able to decide whether there is pay parking or not in towns is making MDCs toothless and powerless.  There is a very strong feeling against pay parking in all towns in West Cork.  He is hoping the Council will leave this power with the MDCs.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): MDCs are being brought in on the basis of Putting People First.  The concept was that they would respond to the local area needs.  It has always been questionable how much power they will have but is true that decisions should be devolved as low as possible.

Cllr O’Flynn: The decision on pay parking is a reserve function for the new MDCs as far as he is concerned.  There are two hours free parking in Mitchelstown and Charleville, but pay parking in Fermoy.  He wants to see the situation in all towns equalized.  We need to stand up for rural Ireland.

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF): The decision on pay parking should be an MDC function.  Local knowledge and local expertise is very important with regard to pay parking.  To deny this is to belittle MDCs.

Cllr Forde (FG): We have had much argument about pay parking in Douglas.  There needs to be a certain uniformity of decision-making throughout the MDs.  This issue needs clarification so that we can move forward.  Although there is pay parking in Douglas, there is no pay parking in Carrigaline.

Cllr Fitzgerald: There is pay parking in Mallow and it is very problematic.  The pay parking situation has to be regularized.  People see the MDCs as a municipal authority and will be very disappointed if we do not behave as such.  Universal tickets for pay parking right through the county would be a good idea.

Cllr Murphy (FF): It is a reserve function to decide whether to introduce pay parking or not.  When MDCs were set up, the aim was to bring democracy closer to the people, especially with Town Councils abolished.  We were taken aback to hear that we might not have the power to introduce or otherwise pay parking.  We would like clarity today.  It is very important to respect the reserve function of the MD, where the local knowledge is paramount.

Cllr Mullane (SF): There is privatised pay parking in Mallow.  The privatisation creates the difficulty.  She would like to ask how many pay parkings in the county are privatised?

Cllr Creed (FG): Having read the response from the manager, it appears that the function to create or otherwise pay parking is there but that the function it can be over0ruled by the manager.  He would like to ask the manager to comment on last paragraph of his report to members.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  We need a report from the CEO in advance of the morning of the Council meeting.  We have not had time to read through and study it.  We had all thought that MDCs would have the power to deal with pay parking.  It seems that there is now a clawing back of power from the MDCs.  He doesn’t think the report clarifies the issue at all.  What does “inconsistency” mean?  We need corporate advice on this.  When will the report from the transport SPC be complete?  This was commissioned last December.  Until that report is issued, can we go ahead and propose changes to pay parking within the MDs?

Cllr McCarthy (SF): She wants clarification on the last two paragraphs of the CEO’s report.  It appears to read that if CEO doesn’t like a decision taken at the MD level, it will be overturned.  Is this the way it will always be at a MD level?

Cllr Collins (FG): It is muddying the waters letting to let this issue go further.  He thinks that the pay parking issue needs to be uniform across the board.  Tickets for pay parking should be interchangeable where possible.  If you go to Bantry for a weekend, the tickets you bought in Ballincollig should be able to be used in Bantry.  There is a consequence to doing away with pay parking.  Income, albeit small, will be taken from towns.

Cllr N Collins (Ind): Midleton Town Council was totally opposed to pay parking.  As a former member of Midleton Town Council, he supports this proposal.

Cllr Canty (FG): Welcomes the motion but it has opened a big can of worms.  MDs were going to work on this individually and collectively.  Ballincollig has a traffic warden and allows 1 hour free on the main street, 3 hours in car park.  Ballincollig fought hard for a traffic warden.  There will be no meters or boxes around the town.  Any money made from pay parking was to be put back into Ballincollig.  The business association in Balincollig fought hard to keep this.  It’s not broken, so don’t fix it.  Other towns had pay parking rammed down their throats and they’re sorry now.  He regrets what the CEO has had to say in his report.

Cllr McCarthy (SF): Thinks this is a farce.  According to the CEO’s report, MDCs don’t have the powers they thought they would have.  In Cobh, there is 1 hour free parking.  If the MDC decides it wants 2 hours free, will that be overruled by the CEO?  If this is the case, the whole idea of the MD is a joke.  At only our second meeting of full Council, this is already being exposed.

Cllr Murphy (SF): Businesses in Fermoy town are the second lowest rate payers in the county.  Business people in Fermoy are facing a huge challenge with a potential increase in rates to match that of the county rate.  They will be doubly penalized with the potential continuation of pay parking now that Town Council has been abolished.  If MDCs haven’t got the power to change things as they go along, it is totally unacceptable.

Cllr Murphy (FG): He is unhappy with the response from CEO.  It is totally unclear and everything has a but after it.  He thought the MDCs would be able to have a function in respect of pay parking.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): This motion is timely with budgets being formed in October.  There is plenty of free out of town parking in retail centres.  Town centres have to compete with these people.  At present, it is cheaper to drive from Fermoy to shop in Mahon than it is to shop in Fermoy.

Cllr Lucey (FG): If the MDCs can’t manage its own local area, there is no point in its existence.  Money from parking in Macroom goes back into local amenities.

Cllr Desmond (FF): Businesses in Douglas are on their knees.  Is there an update on where the report from the SPC currently is please?

O’Sullivan (FF):  Appalled by what is circulated this morning.  No point in going to MDC meetings at all.  Pay parking has been damaging for Youghal.  Beneficial to Midleton not to have pay parking.

Cllr C O’Sullivan (FF): We thought the MDC had reserve functions.  This is a disgrace.  He appealed to the CEO to give us this one.  This is the first chance we have had to exercise reserve function.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  Are MDCs obliged to bring a resolution to the CPG?  Looks like MDs can’t win whichever way they go.

Mayor: We all thought from legislation that MDs would have power but obviously statutory instruments are making a difference.

Cllr McCarthy (FG):  Pay parking kills business.  Midleton with no pay parking doing is ok.  Youghal with pay parking is struggling.  Concurs that pay parking in town centres gives business to the large multinationals like Tesco.  Do we want to see our town centres completely dead?  This type of decision has to be kept at district level.  When businesses close, the County Council will lose rates.  The County Council must think logically.

CEO: Emotive language has been used in this discussion.  He would like to think that members would respect the fact that his report is based on Regulations.  His job is to advise the members how to operate under the legislation.  He welcomes the opportunity of getting to the nuts and bolts of how the MDs and Cork County Council will perform their functions in future.  There is inconsistency across the county on how pay parking is implemented.  There are differing views across the chamber.  The Regulations are very clear.  The power to introduce bye-laws and making of charges and how to dispose of those charges is a MD function.  The Regulations brought in on 29th June reflect the fact that in one local authority area, there may be more than one MD.  If the decisions made by the MDs differ from County Council policy, the MD can discuss what they have decided with the CPG.  The MD shall not exercise what its members have decided whilst the CPG is making its decision.  The issue of pay parking will be brought to the Transport SPC.  A policy within which MDs should operate their function on pay parking is needed.  There should not be any change in pay parking arrangements until that policy is drawn up.  After that, the MDs can take their own decision on pay parking.  There is a need for us to grapple with this issue.  Any decision taken at MD level which might impact on the income brought to the CCC must be had regard to.  Regulations also say this.  His obligation as CEO is to bring that to members’ attention.  He thinks his report sets it out very clearly.  If there is any lack of clarity, it is that there is no consistent policy.

Cllr Murphy (FF): The CEO’s response has brought some clarity but it is not satisfactory.  The thinks a one size fits all approach will not suit what is a very diverse community.   Whatever policy the SPC comes up with, let it take cognisance of the huge diversity of towns through the county and not force pay parking on a town that does not have it at the moment.

Cllr Hayes (SF): Our issue is with the Minister, not with the CEO.  The Department appears to be making things up as it goes along.  This is a test for the MD set up.  If we don’t get this one, it is a talking shop essentially.  It seems that the Minister was in such a hurry to get rid of Town Councils, the MDs were an afterthought.

Cllr Sheppard (FG):  Cobh is the only area in its MD bringing in funding through pay parking.  So will all money brought in Cobh stay in Cobh or will it go to all of the MD?

Cllr Mullane (SF): Query on privatised pay parking.

Cllr McGrath (FF): He fundamentally disagrees with what is being said here today by CEO.  Members need the SPC policy within one month.  Businesses cannot wait any longer.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Points out apparent inconsistencies between front and back page on having to consult the CPG.

CEO: He has to have regard to the overall budgetary position of the whole Council organisation.  Members have to consider what this really means at town level.

As regards the private pay parking in Mallow, any change to the pay parking regime in any town would be a matter for the CEO because he will be charged with operating the pay parking system in the town.

The policy on pay parking has sat at an SPC level since December.  The SPC met only once since then.  He is hoping that SPCs will be up and running by September.  The executive will put whatever resources are necessary to get the policy developed quickly.  It is really down to the SPC to decide the pace at which it wants to move.

Notices of Motion

8. Cllr Bob Ryan
“That Cork County Council prepares a Draft Architectural Conservation Area for Blarney with a view to a Variation of the County Development Plan in accordance with Development Plan Objective ENV 4-8.
ACA designation would serve to protect the unique architectural, industrial and cultural heritage of Blarney and support its role as a tourist attraction of both national and regional significance.”

Cllr Ryan: He introduced the concept of this motion locally and it has received much support from the people of Blarney.  He spoke of the development of Blarney since the 1700s.  No other town or village has all these historical features intact and in such close proximity to each other.  Blarney is of immense value to tourism.  It is important to protect the character and townscape for future generations.  It is an extreme oversight that Blarney has not been designated an ACA.

Cllr Conway (Ind): Supports the motion.  Blarney Community Council put a submission in the County Development Plan to this same effect.  The CEO has recommended in his reflections on these comments that an amendment of the County Development Plan be made to that effect.   He is representing Blarney Community Council himself.  He had been going to speak of this through the County Development Plan drafting process.

CEO: It is his intention to propose the Blarney ACA.  There are strong submissions supporting this.  It needs to be dealt with through the County Development Plan process.  We are near enough to completing a new plan; it should be done and dusted by end of this year.

Cllr. Ryan: Agree with the CEO’s process.  He is happy that he has put it on record that there were other Cllrs prior to this who were asked to put the case for a Blarney ACA to the Chamber and who did not.

9.  Cllr Seamus McGrath
To request written clarification from the Chief Executive on the opportunity open to members of Council to express an opinion on the current application before An Bord Pleanala by the Port of Cork for an expansion of activities in Ringaskiddy.  Also to request a report on the opinion of Management on this application.”

Cllr McGrath (FF):  There is a perception that there is an unlevel playing field with regard to planning process.  The Port of Cork had ongoing pre-planning consultations with An Bord Pleanala which the community is not afforded an opportunity to do.  He presumes the Port has also contacted the CEO in advance of submitting its planning application.  The community cannot do that either.  He is asking that he might afford the community the opportunity to either meet with him or to put forward their own views prior to his issuing his report.

CEO:  The Strategic Infrastructure Process doesn’t afford an opportunity for the CEO to engage more widely.  (Basically answered as he answered to me last Friday.)

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Agreed that there is major concern about this application amongst local communities.

Cllr McGrath (FF): Acknowledges that the process does not allow for the CEO to meet with communities, but it doesn’t preclude him from meeting them either.

10.  Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG)
“That the Council ask the appropriate SPC to draw up a proposal to grant aid committees in Towns and Villages in their efforts to provide Christmas lighting.  Cork County Council rate payers as well as the broader community would benefit from such a scheme.  As a county we should do everything to support business in local communities and encourage people to shop locally.  The scheme should be open and transparent taking into account the size of the town and local commitment.”

Cllr Murphy (FG): Towns with Town Councils have generally had help from Town Councils to have Christmas lights.  Maybe pay parking did pay for things like Christmas lights.  These towns also had a different level of rates from those who did not have Town Councils.  It is time to level the playing pitch for all our rate payers within the county.  Our small businesses have to pay for Christmas lights every year to try to make people stay local in their shopping.  A good Christmas can make or break businesses in a town.  It is better to help out like this than by through the big issues like reducing rates across the board.  The CEO has made it clear year after year that reducing rates by even 1% merely rewards the Tescos of the world, not the smaller players.  Maybe through little issues like this we might better be able to help local communities.

Cllr Murphy (FF): Supports the motion.  It is not just in the area of Christmas lighting we could help smaller businesses.  There are other supports that might be there for towns and villages from Town Councils.  He wants to know where we stand with issuing grant aids at MD level.  Various functions within our towns and villages were grant aided by Town Councils heretofore.  Traders are finding things very difficult.  It is important that we give every effort to them to ensure that the end of the year will come good for them.  He thinks we should write to the Minister to have different bands of rates for different types of businesses.  This needs to get to an SPC for policy as soon as possible.

Cllr Murphy (FG):  This motion is timely and worthwhile.  We must look at it as soon as possible.  The relevant SPC won’t be set up before September.  In the meantime, the Council Executive can give guidance on what schemes were available from Town Councils.  Whatever level of funding was there in the past from Town Councils should be followed through.

Cllr Hegarty (FG): This is a very creative motion.  Having come from a Town Council in Bantry, she can attest that Town Councils, who had very small budgets, were also creative.  Christmas lighting is a big attraction for a town.  There has always been a wonderful display in Bantry.  It brought shoppers into the town on 8th December.  She hopes other things done at Town Council level like twinning will be brought up in advance of the budget in an equally creative way.

Cllr McCarthy (SF): She also came from a Town Council in Bandon which as a former Town Commission did not have the budget to erect Christmas lights.  The CPG might decide whether and which it SPC to send this to for policy development.

11.  Cllr Noel Collins
“That this Council, due to the chronic shortage of social housing, request the Department of the Environment & Local Government to make additional funding available for the provision of sheltered housing to non-profit Housing Associations for the elderly and others.”

Cllr Collins (Ind): The shortage of housing is a major problem.  He has many such cases at weekly advice clinic. Non-profit housing associations manage 4,000 houses throughout the county.  Sheltered housing is a source of security for the elderly with safety securities in place.  Homelessness has a variety of causes.  The disposessed become wholly reliant on the state.  The State cannot cope.  Some 90,000 households are on the social housing list.  The gap between supply and demand continues to widen.  The number of social houses being built each year is going down.  Tenants must top up the state contribution on rent allowance.  For many, renting has become less and less affordable.  Sheltered housing answers so many of the value for money questions.

Cllr Murphy (FG): Supports the motion.  Members have spoken about this motion several times before.  Those voluntary associations have got substantial funding and our tenants benefit from the units they offer.  Since the demise of funding for housing associations, it left a huge void in the area and a huge number of people without housing.  There are fewer and fewer houses available, not just merely unaffordable.

Cllr McCarthy (FF): Welcomes and supports the motion.  She would like to put forward an addendum to motion by adding: “this Council further expresses its concern at the provisions of the Housing bill 2014 …”

Cllr Barry (FG): There is a hunger among the elderly for this kind of housing.  We have removed the elderly from the areas they are familiar and comfortable with.  He wants to be able to keep people living in their own communities.

Cllr Forde (FG): She thinks this issue very complex.  There is a think-tank at national level which is trying to come up with formulae to ease the current situation.  It comes down to the banking sector of course and she understands from reports that they are starting to issue loans again.  As a Council we should have specific debate which could inform CDP, downsizing, restrictions on building housing for senior citizens, etc.  We have a large Council and could perhaps feed our debate into the national think tank.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Spoke in Irish. Commends Cllr Collins for very his timely motion.  He thinks this is very important because the Housing Bill is not a solution.  The Housing Bill potentially pushes the category of person with housing needs into the private rented sector.  The thinks the vast majority of people prefer the security of the local authority system.  While we are appealing for funding for non-profit organisations, we should also ask for funds to make houses available for local authorities.

Cllr Buckley (SF): In the last few weeks alone, he has experienced six issues of eviction.  One individual is homeless now.  He is in danger of losing his social welfare support because he has no address.  The reality is that people are going homeless every single day.  Society does not serve these people.  We need to go back to the CDP and work at this in a bigger way.

Cllr N Collins (Ind): He had 46 people into his advice clinic last Saturday, five of whom were in dire need of housing.  He got them caravans because he could get them nothing else.  People are not even able to buy a kettle because they have absolutely nothing.  With the high cost of nursing home care, sheltered housing would be a much better solution.

Cllr Barry (FG): There are 6,253 on the County Council housing list.  Once the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) is introduced, this figure will be appear to be lower.  But it won’t be.  People cannot afford rent.  People will be removed from the housing list if the HAP comes through.

Cllr T Collins (Ind): NAMA owns houses which are standing empty in estates often in bad condition and deteriorating.  Cork County Council can’t purchase them from NAMA but it could lease them.  He knows of one lady in Banteer who cannot afford central heating of any kind but her chimney is so bad she cannot set a fire.

Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): Has Cork County Council been made offers of property in the County from NAMA?

CEO: Thinks Cork County Council has not been approached by NAMA.  He suggests Cork County Council could approach NAMA rather than waiting for NAMA to contact.

Cllr Murphy (FG): Need clarification on this.  There have been about 350 houses offered to the County Council over the last year but he is not sure if these were from NAMA.

Mayor Colman (FF): Recalled that at the last divisional meeting, Angela Murphy said she was waiting for confirmation from NAMA.  Maybe things have moved on from then.  Clarification will be sought.

12.  Cllr John Paul O’Shea
“That Cork County Council seeks immediate clarification from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, in relation to receiving no response to date on the application this authority made on the Department’s request for flood damage and repair to roads throughout the County post the 6th January 2014.”

Cllr Collins: It is incredible how slowly this has advanced.  We need to know what funds are available to fix the extent of the damage.

Cllr T Collins (Ind): Is there emergency funding available?  The traditional patching of roads alone is costing a lot of money.  It is pointless.  Proper resurfacing is required.  Often roads are being damaged because the drains are not open.  Please Mayor, might the Minister be asked to provide funding to take care of these repairs.

Cllr McCarthy (SF): The most disappointing aspect of this is that the Council has not even had a response from the Minister.  She compliments the staff in the work they have done on the ground.  But members need an answer from the Minister, whether it is a yes or a no.

Cllr Carroll (FF): Supports the motion and would like to take it further.  The state of roads in West Cork was the main topic at every door in the run up to the election.  Many of the roads are gone beyond patching.  The money that Cork County Council has will go nowhere near what is required.  The County Council needs to approach the Minister and ask him to suspend an NRA project up the country and put the money from that NRA project into roads in West Cork.  Residents of West Cork pay the same road tax as residents of Dublin but they see the standards of their roads as being very different.

Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF):  Suggests that the Council would look for money now for clearing drains, etc. that will be necessary in the winter.  If the Council takes this approach, then the Department wouldn’t have to battle with every local authority application for emergency funding at the same time.

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind): Would like to take this opportunity to get a report on the board walk amenity in Youghal that was lost during the storms.

Cllr Forde: This Minister hasn’t been found wanting with regard to funding.  The money is coming but the needs are not being met.  People who suffered from the flooding in Douglas have not received money.  Did Cork County Council draw down money which might have come from insurance?  With regard to repairing roads, the velocity patcher cannot be used on certain road surfaces.  She wants clarification on that.  Is the money coming from the Minister being spent in areas where it should not be spent?  But obviously we should get more if the Minister is giving it.

CEO: He confirms that the Youghal boardwalk has €1.9million of initial funding.

Mayor Coleman: Believes all members are agreed that we will pursue the Minister on this.

CEO: The County Council has insurance only for County Council properties.  Any remediation arising from flooding comes from grants.

Cllr O’Shea (Ind): We’ve been asked to submit our application in early March.  If there was some indication from the Department that money would come from government, they would wait.  But now there is a concern that money will not come.  The engineering staff has already spent money they haven’t got to repair what they can.  Please put this on the agenda for the next Council meeting so that we can follow it through.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Suggested that we might send a deputation to meet the Minister.

CEO: The Executive has been pushing the Department hard for funding of €4.2 million.  The Department hasn’t made any decision on this yet.  The County Council is out to tender for 3 Velocity patchers which should improve the quality and permanency of patching work.

13.  Cllr Michael Collins
“That Cork County Council calls on the Minister for the Environment to retain the Leader partnership structure as they currently exist as they have proven to be the most effective way to deliver programmes abased on local issues and needs.  Anything other than the existing way the programmes have been delivered will have a detrimental effect on community led local development.  It will also negatively impact on the organizations and staff who have many years experience in delivering a range of valuable supports that address the needs of citizens, communities and enterprises and increases social inclusion.”

Cllr Collins (Ind): The decision made by the Minister goes against advice from everyone.  Even Europe.  It goes against empowering communities.  In Finland, they are not allowed have even a community council. People say we are going down the Finnish route.  He would also like a guarantee from the Minister that all rural development companies will be allowed to tender directly for the LEADER contract.  Rural Ireland has been forgotten.

Cllr Murphy (FF):  Supports the motion.  This issue has been brought up before.  The Minister’s is a very negative approach.  When responsibility for the LEADER funds is called to tender, it could end up in the hands of private companies chasing a financial model.  The way it is designed is not favouring Cork County at all.  It is pitting rural development companies against each other.  There is a general feeling that privatisation might be coming down the road.  There is also a feeling that the questions asked by the Minster were designed to get the answer he wanted to get to a tendering process.  There are 5 rural development companies in Cork who will have to tender for the whole County.  These companies just want to deliver services on the ground.  Ill thought out proposal on the part of the Minister.  It is a bit like MDs – very poor planning and inadequate engagement with the companies.  He asks the Minister to row back and think this through again.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Fully supports the motion.  The County Council have had a motion like this before.  It also got the support of all the members.  The Minister has never replied to any motion passed in the last Council, that one included.  The LEADER programme has been a massive success.  The winners have been the local communities.  Why change something that is working well?  Would you change the management team of your football club if you are winning All Irelands?  The Minister is not listening.  There is a public rally in Dublin on 9th July.  He encourages all members to go and stand by the people who elected you.

Cllr O’Shea (Ind): There is a huge lack of clarity in terms of the future of these companies.  The coo-operation between LEADER companies and the County Council over the years has been welcome.

Cllr Hayes (SF): LEADER is a fantastic set up in this country.  He read statistics for what LEADER has achieved.  We also need clarification from the EU on alignment.

Cllr Barry (FG): The delivery of the LEADER programme has been hugely beneficial.  He is concerned that the alignment policy is a done deal at this stage.  He asks Cork County Council to work very closely with the development companies.  The experience, knowledge, etc. that has built up in these development companies may be lost.

Cllr Conway (Ind): Blarney had stagnated until LEADER.  The people in the rural development companies are really on the ground and incredibly efficient at what they do.

Cllr Moynihan (FF):  He was at the opening of an astroturf near Millstreet over the weekend.  The community gave incredibly positive feedback on the LEADER fund and its implementation.  This type of work is being represented in 33 communities in his area.  It is keeping the community alive and vibrant.  Even the EU Court of Auditors supports how Ireland has implemented LEADER.  Our model is being replicated all over Europe as a success story.  Staff of the rural development companies are very committed.  They work long hours and are available at all hours of the day and night.  We must send the strongest possible message to the Minister.  The format of the LEADER set-up is also building leadership in communities.

Cllr G Murphy: We have superb rural development companies which have an ethos different from that in state agencies.  There will be less funding available from the LEADER programme in the next round.  He thinks we can do what we need to do by co-operation.  He is sure the tendering process will not pose a challenge for the rural development companies.

Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF): He is a board member of SECAD.  SECAD has an incredible track record in terms of delivery.  LEADER groups tackle issues that are not otherwise tackled.  The Irish model is EU best practice.  The Minister’s approach is is coming from the top down – this is the wrong approach.  The track record of the rural development companies is to work from the bottom up.  Minister Hogan does not deserve to got to Europe.

Cllr Forde (FG): She doesn’t think this is an either-or situation.  Cork County Council is also a development agency.  She thinks we need to work closely together.  She is concerned that people are saying the Council might not have the expertise to deliver in the way the rural development companies can.  She also notes that she would like the CEO to take on board a gender balance when setting up LCDCs.

Cllr Melissa (SF): Says that she is confused.  The LCDCs are to replace what LEADER funding was doing?  But there are pilot schemes underway and these have copperfastened that this new alignment proposal is going ahead.  Cork County Council should not be setting up these committees.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Supports the motion and all the sentiment expressed in the Chamber but is also concerned that the feeling that it is a done deal may be accurate.  The rural development company in her area is SECAD and she has experienced their expertise and knowledge at first hand.  It would be tragic to lose this resource.  One of the concerns is that the LEADER fund is one of the largest funds run by the rural development companies.  As such, it allows them the opportunity to employ accountants and all the other professionals necessary to run a myriad of other smaller funds coming from Europe that, on their own, could not fund this necessary support system.  Many of these other smaller funds are not available to local authorities.  So if the rural development companies lose out, ultimately Cork County Council will lose out.  The Minister commissioned an Alignment Steering Group to prepare a report.  On reading that report, it does not seem to her that its intent was that rural development companies and local authorities would be competing against each other.  The report speaks of building “greater trust and collaboration between the local government and the local development sectors so that the best of both systems can be aligned to secure more effective delivery of services and supports to local people”.  This is not divisive language.  So if there is no opportunity for us to change policy at this stage, could we at least ask for a commitment from the Executive that they will do all within their power to work with local development companies and assist them to tender successfully for the LEADER contract.

Mayor Coleman (FF): Cork County Council is being seen as giving a severe blow to rural development companies.  It is not.  There has been co-operation on the ground between local authorities and LAGs.  The real weakness of the new system is that the local development company will have no security of staff and tenure.  It is good to have this debate. The Department has to change the structures that it is putting in place for tendering.

CEO: He does not want to pit local authorities against rural development companies.  This is not intended.  There has always been great co-operation between them on the ground.  The principles of LEADER will be well protected.  This isn’t really about the benefits of the LEADER programmes. It is also about recognising that local authorities play a significant role in community development at a local level.  The companies delivering rural developent programmes are now likely to experience the cuts and austerity measures that local authorities have experienced.  This move challenges whether or not there is duplication in the system.  There will probably be less funding all around through the next rural development programme.  This new alignment policy hasn’t been driven by local government at all but the message is out there that if the current LEADER companies don’t continue in their current form, there will be a loss to communities.  He doesn’t believe that at all.  He believes that local authorities and the rural development companies can work together.  The partnership has worked well in the North Cork pilot.  We still don’t know what the final structures will be.  They will be set out in legislation.  He thinks Council must continue to establish LCDCs, otherwise the funding from Europe won’t come to the Council.

Cllr M Collins (Ind): He welcomes the support for his motion from the Chamber and agrees that we should take a deputation to the Minister.  Maybe we will be meeting with a new minister by then?

Cllr Mullane (SF): She still believes we should not be setting up LCDCs.  To set up the LCDCs is to agree to the alignment we are all giving out about.

Cllr Murphy (FF): The tender is already available on e-tenders.  The five local development companies have to tender for the whole county.  Only one can get it.  Just as in the rural transport programme.

CEO: The rural transport programme was different.  He thinks that the final tender may be for running the LEADER programme in just part of the county.  But we still do not have finality on what the structures will be.

The motion was accepted by the Council.

9. Votes of Congratulations

None.

10.  Any other business
Swipecards – new ones do not give the same level of access as the older ones.

Cllr Forde – I could not hear her. 

 

Comments on Development Committee meeting, 20th June 2014

All Development Meetings of the County Council are held in camera without media so that members of the Council can speak freely. This morning’s was no different, so I won’t post the notes I took at the meeting on my website.

The briefing on the Port of Cork planning application that was itemised on the agenda was indeed very much that – a briefing. The Planning Section brought us through some of the procedures associated with the Strategic Infrastucture Act and then the Planning Policy Unit gave a brief overview of the planning application for the Port’s proposals for the redevelopment of Ringaskiddy. Some interesting points from the community angle are that the Chief Executive (formerly County Manager) will make a report based on the recommendations of his staff. That report will be sent to Council members on 11th July and discussed at a meeting of the full Council on 14th July. Members’ opinions will not change that report but if the members’ opinions differ from those of the Chief Executive, they may prepare and append a report of their own. The entire package will then be sent to An Bord Pleanala.

Members expressed their disappointment that they had no indication of the Chief Executive’s views at this stage, particularly since the last day for submissions by the public to An Bord Pleanala is the 26th June.

I can’t honestly say that any new information came to light during the course of the briefing and subsequent discussion. What I can document is what I said myself and it is something I feel very strongly about. I commented on an aerial view of the port activities at Ringaskiddy that had been projected for the benefit of the briefing, saying that so often we see aerials of the port activities but so rarely do we see aerials taken with a wider angle lens which show the adjacent village of Ringaskiddy with a population of almost 400 people, the village of Shanbally with over 500 people, the towns of Monkstown and Passage West with some 5,200 people, a little further away the town of Carrigaline with 12,000 people and just across the water, the town of Cobh with 12,000 people living on the island. These people had come together as communities around the harbour to fight the Port of Cork’s proposals in 2008. They had paid heftily to employ an “expert” to represent their views at an oral hearing, they had taken time off work and lost wages to attend the oral hearing. They had used grannies and grandfathers to mind children, employed consultants at a personal level to assist them. They won but continue to be woken by the unloading of containers off the banana boat every Thursday night. The Port says that noise from the “redeveloped” facility will be no more than that experienced at present, but with the “redeveloped” facility, the residents will now be woken every night. Another resident of Ringaskiddy runs a limousine company. He washes his cars three times a week to clean them of the dust from the bulk loading and unloading.

Now these residents see the Port of Cork coming back again. This time, the new National Ports Policy has defined Cork as a Tier 1 port. This has allowed the Port to apply for European money to fund its planning application. As the local communities see it, ordinary people fund the Exchequer and the Exchequer funds Europe. So the residents have in essence paid for the planning application they now oppose. They will have to pay €50 each to submit their objections to An Bord Pleanala. They will have to, yet again, employ professional representation. Although the EIS is available on the internet, it has been presented as a photograph – in other words, they cannot even highlight a sentence to copy and paste it into a document to help them prepare their submissions. Many are not comfortable with the internet as professionals within the County Hall might be. So they must either come to see it in County Hall – for which they must take more time off work – or purchase a paper copy. This is available from An Bord Pleanala for €175. County Hall has advised that the An Bord Pleanala price is cheaper than they can do. The cost of purchasing the EIS from the Port is €500. As the local communities see it, this is not a level playing field.

Nor does one ever see an aerial view yet further encompassing the road network serving the Ringaskiddy port. Port traffic has massive impact on the whole Cork region. As was said by other members in the Chamber, there has been no change to the road network since the 2008 planning application. On this, I quote a report produced in 2013 by the Competition Authority. Although this report relates specifically to ports, it has not been referenced at all in the Port’s planning application:

“If ports are rivals and competing for the same cargo, there is an incentive for port authorities and private service providers to keep port-related charges down and provide better and more efficient services. This helps to keep transport costs down which can have a significant influence on trade volumes … it has been estimated that raising transport costs by 10% reduces trade volumes by more than 20%. Indeed, it has been shown that transport costs can have the same effect as tariff and non-tarif barriers to trade. It is not uncommon for transport costs to account for 10% of the total cost of a product, though it has been estimated that on average 5% of the value of imported merchandise is spent on freight and insurance costs relating to their international carraige. Transport and maritime costs are influenced by a range of factors including road haulage costs, ship travel time, ship size and cargo handling charges which makes calculating the port-specific cost element difficult. While it is likely that port-related charges account for 10% to 20% of total transport costs, the influence of these costs on trade means they should not be ignored by policymakers.”

This is important because we, the County Council, are policymakers.

So my question to the Chief Executive was how can we, the members, represent the views of the residents of our communities to him such that they can be reflected in his report?

The Chief Executive said that he regretted, particularly in the light of the quality of my presentation, that there really was no mechanism by which this could be achieved. The structure he was obliged to follow was set by legislation. The best he could offer was the appendage of the members’ report to his, wherein we could express the views of the residents.

What is disturbing to me is that so many of the Council members are from further afield than Cork Harbour and the Ringaskiddy redevelopment proposal has very little real meaning to them. There was quite a bit of chat in the Chamber as the meeting went on. Many were going in and out, sometimes with mobile phones. Yet on 14th July, all the members, regardless of what part of Cork they are from, are going to vote on whether to support or otherwise the Chief Executive’s report. The future of Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world, is in their hands. What a responsibility.

First meeting of Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District, 13th June 2014

These are my notes from the above meeting.  Although they reflect the content of the meeting to the best of my ability, they are subject to whatever inaccuracies may be due to my typing, hearing and interpretation …

CCC staff present

Kevin O’Regan (MD Officer)
Madeline Healy
Bernie McCarthy
Niamh O’Neill
Maurice Manning

Election of a Cathaoirleach
Deirdre Forde elected unanimously.

Election of Leas Cathaoirleach
Frick Murphy elected unanimously.

Standing orders
Cllr Forde explained that interim standing orders are in place to allow MDCs to function at present.  These can be looked at over time and amended as time goes on.  She hopes that they will be adopted as they are but the MDC can decide to revisit them later on in the year.

The standing orders were considered by the Corporate Policy Group during the week.  Cllr McGrath suggested that the standing orders need to be tailored to suit this MDC’s need, so put an examination of them on the agenda for September.

Cllr Forde agreed and said that if any councilor has any viewpoint in the meantime, they can make it known.

Schedule of meetings
It was agreed that MDC meetings would be held at 2 pm on the 3rd Monday of every month.

Municipal district functions
These were discussed at the CPG.

The reserve functions of local authorities are set out in Schedules 1,2,3 of the Local Govenment Reform Act.

The Minister issued regulations in May as to how all reserve functions should be exercised.  The CPG thinks the municipal district functions should be reviewed with the regulations in mind.

The schedule from the Local Government Act will be circulated to all Members.

AOB
Cllr O’Laoghaire suggested that because of the recent division of Carrigaline through the redefining of electoral boundaries, it would be good for the town if this MDC should meet with the Bandon-Kinsale MDC 2 – 4 times each year.  It was agreed that this would be a positive thing.

Madeline Healy explained that the Area Office is continuing to manage the roads functions of the town of Carrigaline in totality, regardless of electoral boundaries.  She will send out a map to members the extent of the engineering boundary.

Cllr O’Donnabhain asked for clarity about the Ballincollig boundary as well.  Madeline Healy clarified that the estate will not be severed and will all be managed from the Area Office.

Cllr Forde said that the proposed meeting of the two MDCs for Carrigaline will be put on the agenda for next month’s meeting and in the meantime, she will speak to the Chair of the Bandon-Kinsale MDC.

Allowance for Cathaoirleach
Cllr Forde said that the Department has fixed the expenses allowance for the Chair of an MDC to be paid at a maximum rate of €6,000/annum.  This figure was recommended by the CPG.

Cllr O’Laoghaire said that he found the suggested allowance excessive.  He suggested an allowance of one third of that proposed by the CPG would be more appropriate.  Cllr D’Alton agreed with Cllr O’Laoghaire and said that whilst travelling and other expenses were involved, €6,000/annum equates to €500/month and that this is excessive.

Cllr McGrath and Cllr O’Donnabhain requested that the decision on an allowance for the MDC Chair be deferred until next month’s meeting.

The next meeting of the MDC will be on 21st July.

Meeting of Cork County Council, 9th June 2014

These are my notes from the above meeting.  Although they reflect the content of the meeting to the best of my ability, they are subject to whatever inaccuracies may be due to my typing, hearing and interpretation …

1. Confirmation of Minutes
Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 12th May 2014
Proposed and seconded.

2.  Votes of Sympathy
Votes of Sympathy (if any) to (i) the relatives of members or employees of the Council (ii) dignitaries of Church or State (iii) members of the old IRA and Cumann na mBan
None


3.  Disposal of properties
Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
(a) Disposal of land at Park Mews, Town Park Road, New Line, Charleville
(b) Disposal of 34 Church Road, Douglas West
(c) Disposal of 28 Ban na Greine, Carrigtwohill
(d) Amendment to the disposal of Lease of building at Glashaboy, Glanmire, by the inclusion of “5 years (by way of lease)” being the terms of the lease
(e) Amendment to Disposal of Land at Kilmurray Road, Carrigrohane, Ballincollig by the substitution of Kilumney Road in lieu of Kilmurray Road, being the location and the substitution of 0.374 ha in lieu of “Folio No. 4152F”, being the area of said property.
(f) Amendment to Disposal of Property at Ballybearna, Ballinhassig, by substitution of “Mr. John & Esther Corcoran” in lieu of “John Corcoran” being the persons to whom the property is to be disposed.

Disposal of properties has heretofore dealt with at Area Committee meetings.  Staff have an intimate knowledge of the properties in question at Area Committee level.
10 days before a Council meeting, notification of disposal of properties will come directly to each Member.
Queries were raised about properties in Glanmire and Church Road, Douglas.  Queries were answered by Senior Executive.


4.  Western Committee
(a) Allocation of Amenity Grants under the Amenity Grant Scheme 2014 for the Western Division.
(b) Allocation of Community Fund Scheme 2014 for the Western Division.

Copies of groups, project proposals and proposed grant amount to be allocated has been provided.  These were discussed in detail at Area Committee meetings.  Project proposals were proposed and seconded.


5.  Correspondence from Government Departments

Department of Health:
Letter dated 8th May 2014 in response to Council’s motion of 11th March 2014 in connection with the cessation of water fluoridation.

Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF): The response from the Minister is very disappointing.  It is watered down and has missed the point of the motion entirely.  There is no acknowledgement of the motion in correspondence.  The Department continues to refer to a 12-year old review which had no input by any toxicologist.  Most of the people who made up this review were dentists.  The current review we understood was to be an international review.  Correspond back, find out what makeup of experts on the Health Research Board are.  It is disappointing that the  Department doesn’t refer to the main crux of the issue, i.e. individual choice.  A growing body of people do not want fluoridation of their water supply.

Cllr Michael Moynihan (FF):  We were aware of FACCT investigation when we raised the motion but still chose to put the motion to the Minister.  Yet the Minister’s response places so much stock on the FACCT survey.  At the time of our motion, there was also a great deal of talk about an international body examining the whole issue of fluoridation of water supply.  The Minister doesn’t refer to this international study at all.  Where is the international study at?  Basically it comes down to a matter of choice.  We want people to have the option.  The letter should be referred back to the Minister again.  Hopefully following a Cabinet reshuffle,  another Minister may take a different view.

Cllr Kieran McCarthy (SF): Cobh Town Council also had a motion opposing fluoridation of the water supply.  They also sent a letter off to the Minister.  Unlike CCC, they did not even get a response.   He also believes the letter should be sent back to the Minister.

Cllr Paul Hayes (SF):  Also agrees that we should send the letter back to the Minister.

The Mayor concluded that the general thrust of Members’ opinions was to revert back again to the Minister for an improved response to CCC’s motion.


Notices of Motion

7. Cllr Kieran McCarthy
“That Cork County Council supports the introduction of bye-laws or other measure which would ensure that circuses which use animals are prohibited from performing in any part of the local authority area in light of the well-documented evidence of suffering endured by animals involved and the serious animal welfare issues raised.”

Cllr McCarthy (SF): Animal abuse images generally relate to social media, puppy farms, etc.  But as humans, we need to stop established practices when something is obviously wrong.  The use of animals in circuses is wrong.  Keeping them locked up in cages for 96% of their lives is wrong.  Some argue that it is acceptable because these animals were born into captivity.  Yet the children of Afro-American slaves born into captivity were still captive and expected to live a life of slavery.  This was wrong.  Abuse does not cease to be abuse just because its victim is not human.  The ISPCA and other animal welfare organisations are totally opposed to the use of animals in circuses.  There are a number of non-animal circuses in Ireland offering good entertainment and we should be encouraging their use more.  I propose that only animal-free circuses should be welcome in County Cork.  Seven cities and counties around the country also support this.  This motion was passed several years ago but because of a legislative hitch it could not be enforced.  We need to ensure that this legislative hitch is ironed out.

Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF):  Asks that all animals be supported in this motion, not just wild animals.  It is obviously the threat of physical punishment that makes animals perform in this way.  She is also concerned about how animals are transported and allowed to live.  She thinks we should catch up with many other countries and pass this motion.

Cllr Sinead Sheppard (FG): Says she was approached by many people in relation to this.  Minister Coveney brought forward legislation last year relating to this.  FG doesn’t want to see businesses hindered but tradition doesn’t have to involve the use of wild animals.

Tim Lucey (Chief Executive, CCC): This motion is really the remit of the Department of Agriculture.  This Department is drawing up a Code of Practice in relation to the use of circus animals, their monitoring, etc.  He thinks this motion should be brought to the Environment SPC when it gets up and running.  The SPC can then examine whether there is a legislative barrier to CCC’s bringing bye-laws forward.  He also thinks the SPC should take the Minister’s new Code of Practice into account.

Mayor Alan Coleman: It is clear from the debate that members are in support of the motion.  The children of Cork are very fortunate to have the Fota Wildlife Park in which they can see wild animals in as natural a surrounding as possible.  The County Council will pass the motion and its implementation will be dealt by the Environment SPC.

Kevin Murphy (FG): Does not wish to support the FF proposal to stop all animals taking part in circuses.  Many animals in circuses are domestic animals.  He does not want to be a kill-joy.


8.  Cllr Melissa Mullane
“That Cork County Council supports the maximum reduction of 15% in LPT as allowed under legislation.”

Cllr Mullane (SF): Councillors have the power to increase or reduce LPT by 15%.  Homeowners have to know by September what their LPT is going to be.  This is a reprehensible tax.  The Minister stated that funds raised through the LPT would go into local government services in 2013.  He said they would be redistributed to local authorities and that at least 80% of tax raised within each local authority area would go back to that local authority.

But policy has changed and now the Minister says the establishment of Irish Water created significant challenges.  The government has broken its own law.  No money has been returned for provision for local services.  Instead the money went into Irish Water who are still in rented accommodation in a hotel in Mallow.  Most of the money went to pay €100million in consultancy fees.

Cork County has a significant number of incomplete housing estates, massive housing lists, boarded-up houses, road infrastructure in need of urgent attention.  The LPT tax was supposed to be to address these problems.  SF wants this tax abolished and consigned to history.  Asks that Council would support the maximum reduction possible in the tax today.

Cllr Donnacha O’Laoghaire (SF):  The argument in favour of the LPT was that it would provide good quality funding for local services.  SF was concerned at the time.  The tax takes no account of ability to pay and goes back to central government.  These concerns have been realised.  LPT tax paid so far has gone to Irish Water and to paying bank debt.  There has been no improvement in local services.  SF wants to abolish LPT entirely.

Cllr Patrick Murphy (FF): Agrees with the thrust of the motion.  It is up to us to reduce the burden on householders in Cork.  The LPT was advertised as improving local services.  €32 million was collected through LPT in Cork County last year.  €3 or €4 million at best got back.

Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG): Every member would be very pleased if CCC could pass on a reduction of 15% in LPT.  Over the last number of years, CCC has had tight budgetary situations.  FG has been shaping CCC budgets since 1992.  They have handed over a reasonably good financial situation to Mr. Lucey.  They have always set aside money for grants in budget.  Grants such as Amenity Grants, Disability Grants, Housing Grants.  They have also set aside money for the Economic Development Fund to help the establishment of new business.  They would love to be able to implement SF’s proposal.  SF is credible enough in this issue because they have proposed to introduce many different taxes at national level.  Consequently a LPT at local level would not be necessary.  FG will support any set of estimates that do not cause a reduction in grants, etc. and that maintains the Economic Development Fund.  If the manager can see a way of doing all these things – and Cllr Murphy believes it is impossible – then reduce the LPT.    Otherwise it is not reckless to reduce it without the full facts.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea (Ind):  Supports the general thrust of the motion.  It is disappointing that the money collected through LPT in County Cork has not been returned to County Cork.  It has had a very bad effect on local services.

Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF):  The LPT is anything but local.  Thanks FG for being so up to date with SF policy.  It is reckless to have a tax that does not take people’s ability to pay into account.

Cllr Tim Collins (Ind):  When he was canvassing, he met an elderly person living on her own.  She was very worried about all the charges being imposed. Her only company was the phone and she now has to pay for that as well.  Time we eased the burden on ordinary people.

Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF):  Agrees that the LPT was misleading.  FF is talking about reducing it by 15% over a reasonable timeframe.  Public consultation on issue during month of July is necessary to informing our debate.

Cllr Kieran MCCarthy:  What is reckless is establishing a quango such as Irish Water which involves huge taxpayer expense.

Cllr Claire Cullinane:  She agrees entirely that the government broke its own law by not delivering the LPT back to the local authorities.  In doing so, the government took money from people who couldn’t afford it to pay off odious debts and to establish Irish Water.  This move has taken away the trust of Irish people.  It is our responsibility to replace that trust for the Irish people.

Cllr Marcia D’Alton:  In fairness to the comments made by Cllr Murphy in relation to local grants, my background is Passage West Town Council where the value and essential nature of grants from Cork County Council is all too evident.  So I want to thank Cork County Council for having ensured that, even in difficult times, these grants were continued.  However, because the LPT was not returned to local authorities as promised, it did not contribute to the funding of these grants.  The LPT was money taken from the people which was, rather than being returned to local authorities as promised, used to set up Irish Water which will in turn take further money from the people.  When I was canvassing, the message I was getting repeatedly was that people did not mind paying for services delivered and they did not mind paying reasonably for water.  But what they did mind very much was paying twice.  Either they pay for services or they pay LPT but they don’t pay both.  Services which used to be delivered by local authorities are increasingly being privatised.  So people see the LPT as a tax on the homes that they have spent their lives working to afford.  They like CCC to deliver their services.  They trust CCC.  Let us re-engage that trust by lowering the LPT and letting that lowering be a message to the Minister that what he has done by using what was to be a fund for local authorities to setting up Irish Water to be totally unacceptable.

FG – Funding of CCC is a huge issue.  The money we have to play with is miniscule.  He considers the way property tax is banded property tax to be a wealth tax in effect.

Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF):  It is difficult to put budgets together.  The money taken in LPT gave CCC no benefit.  We need to work in that direction.

Cllr Tim Lombard (FG):  Nobody in this Chamber today will have any issue with reducing property tax by 15%.  But what will be the reduction in services? Community grants, disability grants, etc. may all be affected.  The real issue is that we will not know how much we can reduce it by until we know what we will get from national funding.   To reduce LPT may mean more people waiting for longer to have their roads fixed.  People really want services.  People deserve more than just cutting LPT without knowing what services we are commensurately reducing.

Paul Hayes (SF):  What FG is saying would be true if CCC had got money from the LPT but it didn’t.  It is false economy to say LPT cannot be reduced.  Businesses are still closing every day.  LPT is taking money out people’s pockets.  When people don’t have money to spend locally, businesses suffer and close.  Then CCC loses rates from the businesses that are closing.  We need to send out the message of relief to people today that the LPT is being lowered.

FF from Clon: We got no benefit from LPT last year so to reduce it will not affect services.  There is a public consultation on LPT coming in July, but the biggest public consultation we have had yet is the results of the local elections.

Tim Lucey (Chief Executive, CCC):  The motion didn’t seek a report, hence he has no report prepared.  He saw this as a motion which would generate debate.  We are awaiting the final LPT Regulations so it is premature to produce a report.  The Regulations will set out the consultative process that will come in mid-July which will provide for public submissions, etc.  CCC will need to take decision on the level of LPT before the end of September.  The Chief Executive must then issue a report to CCC as to whether there will be a change in LPT up or down.  There is a long road to go on this and serious questions must be asked before any decision is made.

It is debatable whether local government benefited or not from LPT.  Could local government have survived without the introduction of LPT?  It is debatable.  We need estimates of what the potential yield from LPT might be for 2015.  80% of what is collected in LPT needs to come back to local authorities.  Neither do we know how what we might get back from LPT might impact on other grants we get from central government.  If the motion is passed, it doesn’t have any bearing on whether he will implement it or not.

Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG):  Fears Cllr Murphy may have been misunderstood.  Fine Gael agrees that the rate of LPT should be lowered as much as possible.  It just wants to be very careful that lowering doesn’t result in a reduction of services.

The Mayor concluded that debate in the Chamber proved the motion to have won.


9. Votes of Congratulations


10.  Any other business
Cllr Des O’Grady (SF) had some queries about the final make-up of committees which seemed incomplete after Friday’s AGM.