Notes from a meeting of the full Council, 26th September 2016
Confirmation of Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 12th September, 2016.
Proposed and seconded.
- Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:
- members or employees of the Council,
- dignitaries of Church or State, or
- members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan. Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:
- members or employees of the Council,
- dignitaries of Church or State, or
- members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan.
Bandon Kinsale Municipal District Meeting March, 2016
- Disposal of Ballinacubby, Kinsale, Co. Cork
Kanturk Mallow Municipal District Meeting, 2nd September, 2016:
- Disposal of 6 Edel Grove, Castlemagner, Co. Cork.
West Cork Municipal District Meeting, 5th September, 2016:
- Disposal of 34, Riverdale Estate, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.
- Disposal grant of wayleave through Car Park at Mardyke Street, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.
- Disposal of land at Western Road, Clonakilty, Co. Cork.
- Filling of vacancy on the AILG.
Cllr K Murphy (FG) proposes Cllr Sheppard (FG). Seconded and agreed.
- Filling of vacancy for Cork County Council representative to the Governing Authority of University College Cork
Cllr B Moynihan (FF) was proposed by Cllr O’Flynn (FF). Seconded and agreed.
- Nomination to the Board of Directors for Mitchelstown Community Forum
Cllr D O’Brien (FF) was proposed by Cllr O’Flynn (FF). Seconded and agreed.
- Local Property Tax: Consideration of report on the financial impact of the LPT variation under section 20 of the Finance ( Local Property Tax) Act 2012, as amended by Section 5 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2013
Lorraine Dempsey (Head of Finance):
- A report was circulated last week detailing the items that had to be considered by the Members in taking the decision whether or not to vary the LPT.
- Members have to consider income and expenditure, the financial position of the local authority (and two other things).
- The rate variation applies for the year only.
- Last year the decision was taken to reduce by 5%.
- The government has indicated that the same funding model will continue for 2017.
- A variation by 5% will impact discretionary income by €2m.
- We are depending on the national budget for grants and subsidies, any changes in funding or requirements that we have to meet.
- We want to reduce reliance on using reserves but we have to balance that against delivery of services.
- Cork County Council didn’t receive any submissions on the variation in the rate of LPT consultation.
- We’re not determining the budget today; it is still work in progress. The decision the Members make today will impact on this in due course.
- An adjustment to the LPT amounting to €2m might not be significant. But the real comparison should be made against the discretionary spend once all the commitments we have are taken into account.
- We have experienced years of budgetary restrictions. As recently as 2011, our budget was €350m. This has reduced significantly. These restrictions have brought efficiencies which are welcome but service levels have been impacted and the Council has been forced to adopt a budget deficit. It is possible to ride these storms on a temporary basis but not permanently. Compares it to road resurfacing.
- The LPT variation is applied on the gross amount. So it is a very significant reduction.
- The report issued shows that the impact on householders individually is very small.
- A 5% reduction reduces the annual household bill by €16 for a house of the value of that of 79% of all houses in the county.
- The benefits of reducing LPT by only 5% last year have been very positive.
- We ask the Members not to make any change in the LPT rate. Even if a zero change is made, we are still likely to be presenting a deficit budget in a few weeks time.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Thanks for the reports. FG intends to vote for a zero variation – stick with the base rate. Thinks it’s a no-brainer. The savings from any kind of a LPT reduction to the householder are minimal. Everything that comes into the Council comes back into planned maintenance. The deficit budget we have been experiencing over the past few years will impact on services. We are also being impacted by the global revaluations. We were compensated for these last year but are bearing the full brunt of the €1.3m loss this year. Those who have high valuations on their properties will benefit more from LPT reduction than those who have lower value properties and can less afford it. Thinks we should give back better insulation, etc. to all those houses. Thinks we need to return core services to the people. If we don’t pass back the maximum amount to the Council, we’re doing our constituents a disservice.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Thanks Lorraine and Declan for support. With an equalisation fund of 20%, we in Cork County are losing out. There is €8.12m taken off what is gathered in the county through LPT. There is a big drop this year from €2.9 to €8.4 going towards the pension fund. We as councillors are elected to provide services for the people we represent. We can only do this if we have the finances. It is the government responsibility to provide this funding. This government has cut budgets to local authorities over the past number of years. The only sources of income we have are LPT, commercial rates, rents, etc. Recognises the benefits of the decision taken last year. Will ask for a 5% reduction again this year. There are hard-pressed householders who shouldn’t see any increase in their property tax bills.
Cllr Hurley (Ind): We have debated and discussed this over the weekend and have reached a conclusion but we will wait until the debate takes place to state our position.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): We’re calling for a 15% reduction in LPT for 2017. The so-called LPT is an unjust and regressive tax which takes no account of income, is not local because its collected by the revenue commissioners and put into central government funds to keep councils barely afloat. If it were a local tax it would be collected locally so that funds could be used to service the local community. SF’s position on this has remained consistent since its introduction. We would abolish it for a tax on high earners. This position is consistent and follows through on a commitment to our constituents that we will continue to reduce LPT by 15% until it is abolished. Families expected an increase in services from the LPT. They were sold a pup. The truth is that people are not getting extra services from paying this tax. They are struggling to pay and not seeing any real benefit. The fund was taken to pay Irish Water for the first year. We are putting €6m back into the local economy, not taking €6m from the LA budget.
Cllr Rasmussen (Lab): This is a difficult time of year because we’re under a certain amount of pressure from both sides. We spend a great deal of time complaining that we don’t have services. The stark reality is that while it is important to give back something to the people, €16 per year is very small. You can argue that when coupled with other income tax breaks it might be €40-50. We are trying to find a balance between services and household budgets. Will wait and see what other Members are doing but would like to see a cut of some small percentage.
Cllr K McCarthy (Ind): Is independent but does not vote with the independent grouping. Agrees with the SF position. Would go further if possible.
The Mayor asks whether we will go to a vote. Many members say yes; SF disagrees. They want to debate. The Mayor puts it to a vote on whether to proceed to a vote on the variations in LPT rate proposed.
Result: 42 in favour, 8 against
Members proceed to a vote on the LPT rate of variation without a debate.
Vote on 5% proposed by Cllr O’Flynn (FF): 16 in favour, 36 against
Vote on 15% proposed by Cllr O’Grady (SF): 7 in favour, 43 against
Vote on 0% proposed by Cllr Murphy (FG): 40 in favour, 10 against
The decision is that the LPT will be at the base rate.
REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMITTEES
- Cobh Municipal District
REPORT UNDER SECTION 179 OF THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT ACT 2000.
(a) R639 Sallybrook Pedestrian Crossing Glanmire.
(b) L3004 Glounthaune Traffic Calming Scheme
Proposed and seconded.
- European and International Affairs Committee
Report on visit to Ajara, Georgia
No comments from Members.
REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF OFFICERS
- Quarterly Report of the Chief Executive on Economic Development
Cllr D’Alton (Ind) asks for the Deputy CE to explain why there is such an apparent difference in LEO grants approved in South Cork and in North/West Cork. The amount approved in South Cork is much higher than that in North/West Cork but the amount actually paid out is much higher in North/West Cork than in South Cork. There also seems to be much higher activity in North/West Cork with regard to TOV and MFI than in South Cork.
The Deputy CE will get clarification and revert, although he says the South Cork LEO has been so successful that it has had a second tranche of money allocated to it.
NOTICES OF MOTION
- Councillor Marcia D’Alton
“That in building new playgrounds or regenerating existing playgrounds, Cork County Council would introduce a policy of application of the Principles of Universal Design by installing a range of equipment which can be used by both able and less able bodied children alike. In addition, that towards achieving universal design, Cork County Council would begin a programme of retrofitting all existing playgrounds in its jurisdictional area with at least one item of play equipment specifically designed for inclusivity of all.”
Text of introduction to the motion is under separate cover.
- Councillor Eoghan Jeffers
“That this council would adopt a policy of providing facilities for disabled children in all local authority playgrounds and exercise facilities for disabled peoples on all greenways and parks where exercise machines already exist and where there are plans to install more.”
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Welcomes Cllr D’Alton’s motion. Wonders how he can follow it. Feels this proposal would be a massive step forward in quality of life. Public open spaces in which children play are one of the most fundamental building blocks in their lives. Believes the local authority should provide facilities for all children. Cllr D’Alton covered a lot of the issues – commends – hopes Members support.
Both motions are taken together.
Cllr J Murphy (Ind): These are timely motions. Has a similar motion in own Municipal District tomorrow. How can you follow this? Everything that needed to be brought up has been said. Suppose that Cork County Council has a design team, access to universities to get their expertise in designing parks that are useful to people coming from all different backgrounds and challenges. In my Municipal District, we have a lot of people who attend St Joseph’s in Charleville. We have many people who have to travel to Fermoy to use a playground that is suitable for them. So supports both motions.
Cllr Forde (FG): Supports both motions. We can’t argue with the sentiment. The same parent wrote to all of us. He would love if one of his children could have the same pleasure when he goes to the park as do his siblings. We have moved along in the way we cater for those with different abilities, particularly children. The planning process has made a huge difference in this regard but must take account of young people with disabilities. Speaks of autistic child negatively affected by an adjacent planning decision. Thinks we need to take planning into account too when considering the disabled. But good to start small, so supports the motion.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): Supports both motions. Timely with what is going on in Cobh, where we are increasing the playgrounds for both local community and tourism. Our amenity grants are so tight that it hasn’t always been possible to fund playgrounds appropriately. This morning, with the vote on the LPT, we will have the funding and the discretion to say where the money goes.
Cllr Coughlan (FF): If communities are to receive the benefit of a piece of equipment that is disability friendly, asks that local consultation would take place with local groups of parents who are supporting children with disabilities and with the children themselves. We as councillors too should be consulted with regard to retrofitting. Also important that we look at new playgrounds in places like Innishannon where provision of playground services have not kept up with burgeoning population.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Supports both motions. Timely. Thanks Cork County Council that there is scarcely a village in North Cork that doesn’t have a playground. The LEADER board has provided quite a lot of funding. Playgrounds are one of the best facilities in any rural area. Thinks we should do an audit of playgrounds throughout the county. Some may have facilities for those with disabilities. Thinks the motion should go to SPC for this audit and a costing.
Cllr G Moynihan (FF): Commends both motions. Thinks they are very good. Thinks people with disabilities are the forgotten people. We should help them in any way we can.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Supports both motions. Timely and surprised the issue hasn’t been here before now. People with disabilities so often fight their own corner. Fully supports.
Cllr Murphy (SF): Supports both motions. Both well done.
Mayor: Supports. Also received the email.
Deputy CE: There may be low cost measures we can introduce. We have a disability access policy in the Council. We commit to access to wide range of services, buildings and outdoor spaces. The history over the years is that playgrounds have been provided and communities have fundraised and the County Council has contributed. When playgrounds were put in place they were mindful of the standards of the time. These standards were made in 2007. We have around 140 playgrounds. They are inspected every two weeks. Those inspections often identify equipment which needs to be retired. When replacements are being made, we will favour disability friendly equipment. The figures Cllr D’Alton has for disability friendly equipment are different from that which was quoted to me – up to €20,000. Also have been told that the surfacing might be affected. If we are to carry out a full retrospective inspection itwould be very costly. There will be more ability at local level what is appropriate for replacement or retrofitting. The constraints are financial only but can commit to favouring disability friendly equipment in replacing worn out equipment.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Thanks all the Members for their support. Thanks the Deputy CE also for his support. Great to know that universally designed equipment will be favoured when equipment is being replaced. Comments in particular on Cllr Forde’s mention of the importance of the planning process in designing for disabilities. Couldn’t agree more. Recalls the particular case she mentions and actually proposed a motion to the Chamber in relation to that case. It went to the Department for approval but, as usual, they made no change. Costs quoted are real and directly from equipment providers. Would be pleased to share the details with the Deputy CE.
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Thanks Members for the support. Would also like to remind of disability friendly greenways also.
- Councillor Melissa Mullane
“That this council provides a written report on what building/planning supports it provides to post primary education across the county. The report should also include in particular Davis College, Mallow.”
Cllr Mullane (SF): September tsunami in Davis College. Application was submitted by the CETB. There was to be a stand alone extension to the rear of the building to cater for 625 students. The Davis college development was granted subject to 31 conditions. There are huge issues currently because of this application. The students are cramped, have inadequate classrooms, lunch facilities are being divided into 4, students are working on their laps and it is a game of chance to get a classroom. This is hugely detrimental to education. Presently the school has >800 students. They have taken >100 European students additionally. There are 6 prefabs erected but as late as last week they are still dividing classrooms. Cork ETC proposes to erect a further 3 prefabs for which they say they do not need planning. Is this correct? There have always been objections to prefabs. They are likely to go up on the site where the extension is to happen. Have contacted the CETB, but information is extremely vague and no proper account is taken of the welfare of the school, residents and staff. Cork ETB seem to have very little concern for the chaos they have caused students and residents. Asks Cork County Council to write to the college asking them to review their parking. The school has no adequate measures for parking. Asks that Cork County Council would contact the CETB to ask them what their intentions are with regard to the extension.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Has no issue with the CETB. They have always provided a detailed response wrt the extension of Davis College. There were objections to the proposed extension during the planning application and it went to the Board. This is causing delay. The rear entrance to the school is to be developed in consultation with the residents. That has come to a fruitful conclusion. Understands where Cllr Mullane is coming from because some children are being taught in difficult circumstances. But the management of the College is doing what they can for the students and particularly for exam students. Hopes new facility will be in place by 2017. But would welcome an official update from the ETB. There are issues in reltion to parking. Parents park on cycle lane on main road. A man living locally with a wheelchair has to use the public road because he cannot access the footpath. So the parking issues are real.
Cllr Hegarty (FG): Thinks the CETB should be allowed an opportunity to refute or respond to the allegations made here this morning. If they are true and factual, the CETB will likely deal with the situation. Cllr O’Grady is a member of the CETB and should be able to get answers for Cllr Mullane.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Was told that they were awaiting fire certs before the 3 prefabs could be put in. They have planning for 5 but are putting in only 3. Was told there are problems on the site.
Cllr B Moynihan (FF): Agrees with the motion. We were at the opening of a school in Buttevant last week. The CETB has a record of delivering for communities on the ground. Ted Owens and his staff do great work around the county. The issues with regard to parking, etc. need to be looked at but is slow to criticise Ted Owens and his staff.
Deputy CE: There is a written response provided from the executive. Much of what has been raised is not Council business but lies rather with the management of the school and the ETB. Unless there is a particular issue in relation to planning, it doesn’t really relate to the Council.
Mayor: We can obviously contact the ETB.
Cllr Mullane: Just looking for clarity. Is it correct to say no approval is required for 3 prefabs?
Deputy CE: Not in a position to give a definitive view but in general, if you are putting in prefabs, you need planning. But if there is a planning permission for 5, it is ok to put in 3.
Cllr Mullane: Thinks the 5 that have been given permission are already on site.
- Councillor Noel Collins
“That this Council request the appropriate Minister to make an order redrawing the county boundaries to include the waters of the harbours in which development of either commercial or high profile nature has taken place in order to give the Council authority to develop and control such developments.”
Cllr Collins (Ind): Since I was first elected in 1967, Cork County Council has been robbed of a range of public services. Harbours could be next for the dead list. Don’t let it happen. Rivers, harbours, lakes have been exploited. Are we doing enough by way of legislation to protect our rights? When the present boundaries were drawn, the only use made of the marine environment was to sail ships over it. Nowadays far more use is made of it. The harbours that are mostly affected are Youghal, Ballycotton, Cork, Kinsale and Castletownbere. Bantry Bay has already had its boundary adjusted. The users should make payments similar to rates, in turn spent on harbour towns which are badly in need of improvements.
Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind): Seconds the motion. Local knowledge in these cases is paramount. Sometimes those making decisions on our harbours are taking those decisions from offices far removed from the harbour.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): As far as Cork Harbour is concerned, we are well advanced towards getting a democratic voice around the harbour. 4 Municipal Districts around the harbour have voted for that democratic process and one universal voice.
Cllr McCarthy (FG): Local knowledge is the issue here. We are relying on the OPW. We should have more say in our own waters and harbours within Cork County Council.
Deputy CE: We do have control of harbours under the Planning & Development Act. We recognise the importance of harbours and the coastal zone. Our recently published tourism strategy recognizes Cork as a maritime paradise. Kinsale and Baltimore have transferred to Council/Municipal District control. Municipal Districts have control in relation to harbour policies and these should be exercised locally.
Cllr N Collins (Ind): Welcomes support. Can we pursue this at Municipal District level?
Deputy CE agreed that this was the best course of action but that if Cllr Collins hit a stumbling block, to revert to him.
- Councillor Des O’Grady
“That this Council calls on the Minister for Finance to fully finance the Local Government Equalisation Fund from general taxation and permit Local Authorities to retain 100% of the Local Property Tax collected in their areas.”
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Supports the equalization fund. LPT was >€100m in 2015. But there was an injustice in that 20% was removed. That is deeply hurting Cork County Council. Asks the Council to support that we call on the Minister to fund the equalization fund from general taxation. All local authorities should retain their entire LPT into the future. Thinks democracy was done a disservice in the Chamber this morning. Silencing was never imposed on people before. Is deeply saddened by this.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Supports. Concurs with Cllr O’Grady that we weren’t allowed to speak this morning.
Mayor: Stick to the motion please.
Cllr Mullane: Not against equalization but doesn’t want what is meant to be a LPT to be propping up what the government should be paying for. If we were to take the NPPR in, it would be another €1.2 out of the fund. €1.9 would be lost by rates reduction to multinationals in this county. €2.1 m collected through the motor tax office in Cork is lost. While elected, I will do everything in my power to oppose the property tax.
Cllr Murphy (FG): The motion and its content speak for themselves. The full LPT collected should be retained within the county in which it is collected.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): €8.1m collected in the county should be going to services for people in the county.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): In support. In 2014, a similar motion came before the floor and on that occasion it was SF who went against us writing to the Minister for the €8m. Thinks we should demand the €8.1m back. If we got it back, where would it go?
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Welcomes the motion. Wouldn’t like to begrudge the smaller counties but they should be funded nationally. This is not a LPT but just plugs a gap in national finances caused by reckless governance. We weren’t allowed to debate the need for local services today. €15,750 would be collected in my own estate in LPT alone but we struggle to get trees cut. This is disgraceful.
Cllr Hegarty (FG): Supports sentiments and content of motion. When LPT was introduced, we were told it would be collected locally and retained locally. It would result in a lot of badly needed improvements in our municipal areas. This has not been the case
Cllr Murphy (SF): Supports.
The motion is agreed and correspondence will be forwarded to the Minister. Cllr O’Grady asks that the FG councillors who supported the motion would contact their party heads directly.
Mayor: Democracy was supported today. All proposals that came from the floor were voted on. Everything that was done this morning was done in accordance with a vote.
- Councillor Michael Murphy
“That this council writes to Port of Cork to ask what plans they have for Marino Point.”
Cllr Murphy (SF): Is just looking for transparency. When we were on the Town Council in Passage West, the Port of Cork had no interest in Marino Point. First I heard that they were interested was when it came up in the Evening Echo. It is in a desperate state so who is responsible?
Cllr McCarthy (Ind): Anyone who passes Marino Point and looks over the wall, it looks like Hiroshima. When the planning permission was granted to NET, one of the conditions was that when fertiliser production ceased, it would revert back to a greenfield site except in the event of port-related activities. We would like to know what is this port related activity and does it include removal of these eyesores.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Support the motion. Marino Point is less than 5 km from Passage West as the crow flies and a very important site to Cobh and the Great Island. Redevelopment of Marino Point is likely to impact significantly on Passage West. Those of us involved for many years with the Port’s redevelopment of Ringaskiddy will know that the Port has always expressed an interest in Marino Point. Planning permission was granted in Ringaskiddy on the basis of the Port’s proposed development of Marino Point, including reopening a rail link to support the TEN-T requirement for multi-modal transport. Bulks were mentioned at the time as being the likely use. Other uses have been mentioned since. Recent newspaper report saying that the Port had purchased Marino Point is not true. It has not yet been purchased. However, it is fair that the Port would indicate what its intentions are now with Marino Point, when we might expect those intentions to be acted on and what they will involve.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): If you look a the County Development Plan, we have supported the Port of Cork to hold all of the eggs in their basket. But the Port has been very slow to communicate. We the people have been held back by this lack of communication. They haven’t even yet purchased the site. So we need clarity. We are waiting 10 months for clarity on slipways and piers so can’t imagine how long we will be waiting for an answer to this.
- VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Congratulates Cork Ladies Football team on their weekend win and Cork County Council on the opening of Spike Island. Thanks Declan Daly, David Keane and Michael Ryan in particular for their involvement in the development of Spike Island.
Cllr Cullinane: Cobh won gold medal in the Tidy Towns awards this morning.
Cllr Hayes: Clonakilty got gold in the county awards also.
- Any Other Business
Cllr Murphy (FG): Rural water monitoring – much funding has gone to group schemes. Several have been propped up by grant aid. But no money has gone to group sewage schemes. Very serious problem in one group scheme near own home town that needs grant aid immediately. Substantial number of residents involved. We have no response back. Asking for immediate contact with the Department.
The Deputy CE will investigate and revert back.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): What is the protocol for notification of water outages? Water outage in own area over the weekend was notified by Cork County Council on Twitter. Other recent outage was not notified. Yet another was notified by Irish Water. So who notifies, through what medium and is a notice put on the affected road? Obviously a breakage cannot be notified.
Mayor: Agrees that it is time a protocol with regard to notification of water outages is established.
The Deputy CE will check and revert. The new text alert might be useful, although it is still in development.
Cllr Forde (FG): Minutepad is slow to access. Perhaps IT could bear this in mind.
This concluded the meeting.