[a] CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
1. Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 10th November, 2014.
Minutes were proposed and seconded.
[b] VOTES OF SYMPATHY
2. Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:
(i) members or employees of the Council,
(ii) dignitaries of Church or State, or
(iii) members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan.
Several votes of sympathy were expressed.
[c] STATUTORY BUSINESS
3. Disposal of Property – Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
(a). Disposal of 26 Tuairin Alainn, Killeagh Road, Castlemartyr, Co. Cork.
(b). Disposal of land at Finure, Whitegate, Co. Cork.
(c). Amendment to Disposal of lease of property consisting of Community Centre & Community House at Nos. 47 & 94 at Deerpark, Bandon, by the inclusion of the following wording: The annual rent of €10 is below market value. This was agreed due to the fact it was for community & amenity purposes. In this instance the consent of the Minister to the disposal of land shall not be required as set out in Regulation 206 of the Planning & Development Regulations.
(d). Amendment to Disposal of land at Ballybrowney, Rathcormac, Co. Cork, by the substitution of “0.406 Hectares” in lieu of “0.368 Hectares” being the area of said property.
(e). Amendment to Disposal of land at Coolnanave, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, by the substitution of “Brackhill Holdings Ltd, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork” in lieu of “Pat Tagney, Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork” being the person to whom the property is to be disposed.
(f). Amendment to Disposal of land at Greenfields, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, by the substitution of “Niamh Reidy in lieu of Ray & Geraldine Reidy, Elaine O’Keeffe in lieu of Mary O’Keeffe, Conor Murray in lieu of Conor Creedon and Julie O’Donnell & Declan O’Brien, in lieu Neil & Mary Ledden” being the persons to whom the property is to be disposed.
Cllr Lombard (FG) says that a disposal notice in the Western Division was discussed in the Southern Division meeting last week. Sick of this. Cllr McGrath (FF) argues that this land disposal was for the construction of a school and that he, as a representative of Carrigaline, wants to know about these things. Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF) sees both sides and suggests that we should advance the resolution that was taken at the Carrigaline-Ballincollig Municipal District that both the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District and the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District should meet several times each year. Cllr Collins (FG) supports.
CE: CPG agreed that disposals would be brought to the Municipal District. These disposals should have geographical relevance to the Municipal District. We have boundaries all over the place. It makes it easier if we stick to the CPG’s resolution. Thinks there might be merit in the two Municipal Districts meeting a few times a year when there are cross-boundary issues arising.
Disposals were all agreed.
[d] CORRESPONDENCE FROM GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS
4. Department of Health:
Letter dated 24th October, 2014, in response to Council’s letter dated 25th September, 2014, regarding the water fluoridation and the issue of consumer choice.
Cllr N Collins (Ind): Thanks Brian Crowley MEP and Minister Varadkar for their letters. Suggests that the letters be referred back requesting the Minister’s professional guidance on two recent reports supported by the World Health Organisation which shows that fluoridated water is bad for you. These two new reports have been issued whilst we have been waiting for the MEPs to revert to us. One says that given the prevalence of chronic kidney disease worldwide and diabetes, the authors cautioned that fluoridation of water should be reconsidered and potentially replaced by individual treatment with fluoride. Another report says that fluoride has the potential to create major adverse health effects with only moderate benefit to teeth.
Cllr D’Alton seconded this proposal.
5. Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government:
Letter dated 4th November, 2014, in response to Council’s motion of 13th October, 2014 regarding increasing rent supplement levels.
Cllr O’Grady: Very disappointed with reply from the Department. Rents in Cork have increased by 8% already this year. So if you are on an €800/month rent, you have a €64 increase in that already. That is common in Cork. Also housing will not come on stream until 2018 from the Construction 2020 Strategy. In the meantime people that are looking for rent supplement and applying for HAP have nowhere to go. Of 20 applicants for HAP in the Southern division, 10 were successful. Near the city, the rents are going to be higher. There are rents that will be affordable further out which would meet the HAP criteria but anywhere within 15 miles of the city will not be. Many people are topping up their rent supplement already. The only way to solve this is to put a cap on private rent. We must ask the government to do that.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Cork is in a unique position. The rent limits are probably more unrealistic here than for other areas in the country. The cap is calculated on the basis of the average rent and in Dublin you have high rents and low rents. But in Cork, you are in the unusual situation that you have high rents within a 15 mile radius of the city and low rents further out. Wonders if there would be consideration given to asking for a different rent cap in the city.
Cllr N O’Donovan (FG): Thinks the Department’s letter is fair. Thinks the Minister has a point that increasing rent supplement is not the only solution. There is a certain stigma with landlords as well. Landlords will have certain fears with regard to housing standards if they are to sign up to HAP. Education is needed.
Cllr Buckley (SF): There is a bigger picture here – homelessness is on the rise. 4 or 5 families a week in Dublin losing their homes. This issue has to be tackled rather than being put on the long finger. We need to write back to the Minister and say that we cannot afford to put people’s lives on the long finger.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Ask the Department to investigate private rental accommodation not coming on stream. Also try to encourage the acceleration of construction of units in Cork.
Mayor: Yes, public housing programme should start quickly. All houses being built are owner-occupier houses and that is one house less for the rental market. We will write to the Department, urging that the building programme should start, that the Minister should impose a rent cap on private rent and that the rent differential between Cork City and County should be recognised.
[e] NOTICES OF MOTION
6. Councillor Bernard Moynihan:
“That Cork County Council fully supports and endorses Cork’s bid to host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2016.”
Cllr Doyle (FF) on behalf of Cllr B Moynihan: Cork Comhaltas is applying to hold Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Cork County and Cllr Moynihan is asking for Council’s support.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Cllr Moynihan brought this to the District meeting and we forwarded it on to full Council. The Munster Fleadh was in Ballincollig two years ago. Was a fantastic success. It would be great if we could hold Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann in Cork in 2016.
Cllr Carroll (FF): High time that the Fleadh Ceoil came back to Cork. Thinks the plan is to have it in Cork City. Would be a great asset to Cork City so we should all promote.
Cllr T Collins (Ind): Suggests Millstreet with the Arena as being ideal.
Cllr Fitzgerald (FF): Also supports.
CE: We have 170-odd settlements between towns and villages. Douglas Comhaltas is involved in this proposal. We’d be happy to sit down with our tourism people and a Comhaltas grouping to understand what is involved and to see how we can help.
Cllr Doyle (FF): The proposal came from the wider Duhallow region. Comhaltas ultimately decides the venue and Cllr Moynihan had simply asked for the endorsement of the Council. Will find out more.
CE: Would need more information before endorsing but would of course support the county’s holding this in 2016. Let’s see if Comhaltas will meet with us – get them to contact us.
Cllr Carroll (FF): Very few towns in Cork can support a Fleadh Ceoil. Massive influx of people.
Cllr T Collins (Ind): Millstreet has plenty of accommodation; Killarney is only back the road.
Mayor: Barry Cogan is currently chairperson of Comhaltas and the Cork Comhaltas group is bidding for Cork. If they are successful, Louis Duffy and his team will work with them whatever venue they choose.
7. Councillor John Paul O’Shea:
“That Cork County Council propose an amendment to the Valuation Act which is currently under review in the Houses of the Oireachtas via the Government by writing to the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government and the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform ensuring the following amendments are included in the amendments put forward to the Oireachtas for approval:
- Local authority has more discretion in relation to how they apply rates to businesses across the county
- Ensuring that sports clubs that previously paid rates on its bar and on sporting buildings, will now only pay rates for the part of the building that generates income i.e. the bar.
- Ensuring that Community Childcare facilities who have to date been subject to full rates be allow discretionary rates so as to value their ethos which is to provide low cost, Government funded programmes such as the EECE and the County CouncilS Schemes to people in disadvantaged areas.
In practical terms, this will reduce significantly the size of the building for which sports clubs and community childcare facilities must pay rates and it will provide a sustainable welcome boost for clubs and childcare facilities which are provided to the community, by the community.”
Cllr N O’Donovan (FG): Some of these changes are already being proposed by government. Asks for support for these.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Thanks Cllr O’Donovan. We have been looking for leniency on this for many years. Many sporting organisations have been crippled in the last number of years because of rates. Thanks Cork County Council for talking and working things out with many sporting organisations. Yes if a sporting club has a bar it should be rated on that basis. But the adjoining squash courts or astroturf should not be rated. Very welcome that Minister Harris has taken the valuation amendment on board. This will provide a welcome boost for clubs.
Childcare situation is unusual in Cork. In North Cork, there are 5 community childcare facilities. They have been crippled with rates, some up to €10k annual rates each year. These were built in rural communities to support rural communities. We have tried to change the situation for them for years. The strain these rates bills have placed on community organisations has been entirely unreasonable and unnecessary.
Thanks Jillian van Turnhout, Ind Senator, in particular for bringing these amendments forward. If the current bills are brought forward, it will alleviate much of the pressure that we have seen on these great organisations over the past few years.
Every single one of these facilities has outstanding bills on rates. Now the Minister says that they should never have been rated. The Minister now needs to send a memo to the local authorities permitting the writing off of these rates. So proposes that we send a letter to the Minister and to the Department of the Environment outlining our gratitude that the amendments have been proposed and asking that the outstanding debts should be written off because these facilities should never have been rated.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Supports fully and thanks the Minister for having put these amendments forward. It is to be welcomed hugely that sports clubs will now be rated only on their commercial enterprises. We would like to see all childcare facilities in the country having at least partial relief on rates. Childcare facilities are providing an educational service and following a departmental curriculum.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Supports the motion fully. Cllr O’Shea was dead right in relation to the legacy issue. Presumes the legislation won’t be retrospective. Knows of some examples in both sporting and community childcare areas which have outstanding debts. The principle has been accepted that both these facilities should not be paying commercial rates. We should try to ensure that the legislation gives some guidance on legacy issues.
Cllr Doyle (FF): Supports and welcomes the announcement from the Minister. This is a big issue in North Cork. Was asked to bring up about rates arrears and maybe we could look at this into the future.
Cllr Fitzgerald (FF): Supports and hopes these amendments will succeed. If arrears could be written off, we will be down some revenue. Doesn’t think this is right either. We must write to the Minister as proposed and ensure that funds are available for the clubs to pay what is owed. We were all afraid of the Valuation Act review because these things often send rates up rather than down so welcomes the change.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Compliments the motion and Cllr O’Shea. Sporting clubs which were often providing the only community resource in a rural area are closed because of the bills they were experiencing. So there are two major problems there. This is a big issue for rural Ireland.
Cllr Carroll (FF): Good motion and praises the minister. But it should go further. The valuation went on the size of a building. Now you can have a turnover of billions in a building the size of a bedroom. Need a more fundamental review.
Cllr T Collins (Ind): Only for crèches, a lot or people couldn’t go to work. No crèche could keep going with the kind of rates burden they have been supporting. Creches in villages and towns have only a small turnover but because they have a big building, they have big rates. Fully supports the motion.
Cllr McCarthy (FG): Supports the motion. Reflects the sentiments of the councillors as expressed. Glad the Minister has addressed this after many years of lobbying.
Mayor: Thanks the Minister for changing the Valuation Act. This is an issue that has been raised annually here. It is very positive. Shows that the Oireachtas operates! The Department officials obviously weren’t anxious for this but the legislation was changed anyway. The crèches should also get relief on rates when operating the free childcare year for pre-school children.
CE: We have always tried to facilitate clubs and societies and we will await the outcome of the legislation and look at what is on our books. We’ll see what is brought to our attention with regard to outstanding rates bills.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Thanks everyone for their input. When this motion was put forward first, there were no changes to the legislation. Really welcomes the changes since. Thanks the Minister. This has been to the fore for a number of governments and for a number of years but nothing was done until now. Pays special tribute to Pat Crowley in the rates division of the Council who has met many individuals and clubs about the rates and has helped them compromise and put payment plans in place.
8. Councillor Seamus McGrath:
“To request that the Council re-establish a Public Lighting Capital Programme.”
Cllr McGrath (FF): Put this motion down in advance of the capital budget. We haven’t had a public lighting programme in the last 5 years. We have had developments which have not had the benefit of public lighting leading to those developments. Carrigaline is an example. There was a public lighting programme in that area published in 2004 and 2006. Church Road and Ballea Road are at the heart of community and development but have no public lighting at all. Sure this is replicated in other areas as well.
Knows we have to reduce energy consumption within the Council and knows the Council has goals to achieve. A ban on public lighting is not the way to achieve that. Especially in areas where people have a right to expect basic infrastructure such as public lighting. They pay their LPT. There are other ways of achieving efficiencies in public lighting. Is sure that the older public lighting is not as efficient as the new. If we retrofitted these, we would achieve savings which would allow us to put the new lighting in place. We need to rethink the current strategy.
Cllr O’Sullivan (FF): Not good enough now that community groups are asking for one public light. We need to work with these communities and in many cases one single light would solve a health and safety problem. Small communities have been fighting for public lighting for years. We had a positive budget yesterday and this is a vital programme we need to get reinstated. In many cases it is just a situation of getting population centres connected to community buildings. The elderly population is particularly in need of this, especially during winter months when the daylight hours are very limited. Very worthy motion and hopes the CE is positive about it also.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Fully supports. This is a matter of public health and safety. Thinks we should look at each municipal area and see where public lighting is necessary. For 28 houses in his own area in Mitchelstown there are 2 lights. Also steps and many elderly people. Definitely look at putting a policy in place in conjunction with each of the Area Engineers who know their areas. We are aware that you have to achieve 33% energy reduction by 2020. There is also probably lighting in place and there is no need for it. This is a policy we should put in place.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Supports the motion. Timely because we have a capital programme to be considered in a few weeks. We can make significant savings each year by reducing public lighting expenditure. In the budget book it announced that new LED lighting was being introduced. So these are initiatives being taken by the public lighting department. We have to reduce the public lighting expenditure because it is a directive from Europe. How many public lighting technicians do we have in the county? We should collate at Municipal District level all the requests for public lighting and prioritise them.
Cllr N O’Donovan (FG): Standard answer also to lighting requests is that there is no funding. Asks the CE to sincerely look at these. Before it was a cry for footpaths. We got funding for these. Now it is the turn of lighting. We are asking for community involvement but these communities need give-back too. Huge issue in Clonakilty. Raising it over and over but without success. Also estates which are unfinished or not taken in charge have a big issue with lights that are not working. There is often no-one to fix them.
Cllr M Muprhy (SF): We had lights erected in Roberts Bridge car park in Passage West. Still not switched on. Have to go through 3 departments to get them switched on.
Cllr Barry (FG): We have a duty of care to residents. Huge levels of funding were paid to these estates and it is not fair that residents have no lights going to and from villages. There are new types of lighting that can be used. We need to ensure we are getting best value. Also conscious of carbon footprint. Have seen lights on at 3 and 5 am and wonders is that necessary. Perhaps we should look at timing, etc.
Cllr Carroll (FF): Very badly in need of lighting programme. Baltimore and other similar villages dependent on tourism have B&Bs outside village. People walking home have no public lighting. Support what Cllr O’Donovan says also with regard to unfinished estates. Could we please help the residents of these estates by at least sending them in the right direction? When receivers are involved, they still often have estates with no lights. They’d like to put together a residents association but half the houses are owned by people living somewhere else. Would like the Council to send these people in the right direction. They are sent from one office to the other, especially when receivers are involved. A lot of these people have paid for their houses and have done nothing wrong. They deserve lighting.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): In his area also there are areas where this is a big issue. This is important from people’s perception of the council. If you have built up areas and a lack of public lighting, it affects people’s belief in the efficacy of the Council.
Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind): Supports and agrees with Cllr Carroll. One council estate in Youghal. Lights out for 10 years. People paying mortgages. They thought they would have lighting outside their front door. Was told to bring this issue up at a higher level under County. We’re gone into winter again. We don’t know where to bring it up. Similar to Cllr Carroll, where do we go? How do we fight the corner?
Cllr Hayes (SF): Supports. Glad that the cost of electricity is less as announced in the budget yesterday. Thinks we need to investigate the LED move more. They have done cities in many places. Up to 80% savings.
Cllr M Collins (Ind): Supports. We’re all speaking about our own situations. Trying to get lights erected for 2 years now outside health centre. Getting the run around. Not good enough. Also an environmental issue. A number of years ago our community group in Goleen carried out a project by putting lights on a timer. Maybe the Council could look at this. Look at the lighting capital programme.
Cllr Sheppard (FG): Supports motion. Is a big issue. Has come up on many occasions. Met up with Tidy Towns in Cobh recently – there are 46 lights that are not working and have not been working for over a year. Daft that lights that are there are not working.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Cllr O’Flynn disappointed with the answer he got from the Deputy CE. Doesn’t know how much is in the capital reserves. Motion is well deserving of support. Is so necessary. There are blackspots in every single town in this country. We need to fund from development contributions. We have done most of our road-building from contributions but it is time t look at funding lighting from contributions. Council is in breach of health and safety. Whatever SPC is there to do that, let them see how contributions can be ring-fenced for lighting.
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): Street lights create a deterrent to robberies and anti-social behaviour. Are there areas where we can shut down lights and relocate them to other places?
Cllr M Hegarty (FG): In some areas, low level type lighting would suffice rather than the usual lighting structure. In some areas solar panels could light. Would save long cables either under or over ground. Our approach should be innovative insofar as we need to get things up and running.
CE: We’re developing a capital programme at the moment. We are trying to reduce our energy consumption. Over-riding factor to be considered. But we will always have development to be completed which will take energy demands. There are some issues raised that are complex. On tariffs which run from dawn to dusk. Changes to those tariffs need approval from Commissioner for Energy Regulation.
Much is not on a timer system. Some estates might be connected by footpaths to urban areas but do not have lighting along those footpaths. We know this. How do we fund them? Have to establish this. Programme would have to be realistic. We don’t have massive funds and have to be aware of what we can achieve. We do have one engineer who oversees the entire network. All our area engineers are involved too, but there is one expert. We know where the blackspots are, what the quality is like where. The first area should be dealing with efficiency and then maybe expansion. Will look at it with regard to the capital programme.
Cllr Carroll (FF): Vast funds in Europe for funding energy savings that are not being touched by the Irish government. Heard this on the radio. Maybe we should check this out.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Thanks members for overwhelming support. Knows we have to be realistic but we cannot have a blanket ban any longer. Have to give hope to people that the programme is up and running. Example he was referring to is in the heart of the town. Complex issue in terms of trying to meet energy demands. Retrofitting is realistic. Maybe we need to put funding aside to do this as well. Funding is a debate we must have. But there is a general view that there is a need. Appreciates CE seems open-minded on reinstating the programme.
9. Councillor Melissa Mullane:
“That this Council provides a written report on the process to sanction the lifting of the current recruitment embargo and why Cork County Council were successful on permission to lift restriction on high level income Grade positions and unsuccessful on lower level income posts. Included in this report should also be the number of staff that have left the council since the recruitment embargo has been implemented and have not been replaced and the type of position vacated.
The permanent positions filled since introduction of recruitment embargo are as follows:
- Mar 2010 2 civil defence officers
- July 2010 Divisional Manager
- Jan 2012 Chief veterinary officer
- Feb 2012 Divisional Manager
- Feb 2013 County Engineer
- Dec 2013 Financial accountant
- Dec 2013 County Solicitor
As the current CEO, is not listed as one of the above, are there any other positions that are hired outside of remit of Cork County Council.”
Cllr Mullane (SF): Recognises that we need senior positions but we also need front line staff. Very concerned that Gateway workers are being used to substitute for front line staff. Outdoor staff are down to 407.5 employees. Gap seems to be being filled by cheap labour. SF does not want to see Gateway used. Government is pressing ahead and targeting 3000 jobs this year through Gateway. 215 are already allocated to Cork County Council. We are promoting staff from within Cork County Council to become foremen to these Gateway staff. And staff that were seconded to Irish Water, are we getting these staff back? So would welcome knowing how Cork County Council can get sanction for high level positions but not for front-line staff.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): This has affected our local area also. Spoke of retirement of person from Carrigaline library. Staff is doing their best to patch the damage but recruitment embargo is a blunt instrument that is failing the public. Is having a detrimental impact on our services.
Cllr K McCarthy (SF): Supports the motion and dwells on Gateway a bit. Seems like there is segregation between full time Council workers and Gateway workers. There seems even to be segregation between the JobBridge workers and the Gateway workers on the ground.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): The motion has not been addressed in the response. For the last 4 or 5 years, has been trying to get an increase in outdoor staff. But Cork County Council has allowed a decrease to happen year in year out. Unsustainable level of outdoor staff at this stage. These people are the most critical part of our operation.
(FF blames FG for the embargo; FG blames FF!)
Also would like to know if we are using agency staff, why.
Cllr N O’Donovan (FG): Embargo will hopefully be lifted with slight improvements in the economy. This motion is for headline grabbing only. We need people at management level just as much as we need people on the ground.
Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF): Motion is constructive and commendable. If the FG councillors are that worried, couldn’t they have had a word with the top man last week as he was touring the constituency? We have to be constantly vigilant in terms of our workers.
CE: Will not comment on Gateway, just on the motion. The Gateway scheme is very productive and anyone employed under any scheme in the Council is an integral part of the team and no segregation is tolerated. Embargo has been there since 2009. It is only in extremely difficult circumstances that we can get a position filled. We have to create a business case – have to address whether the job be done on shared services, etc. It is acceptable that during this time only the senior posts were filled. The Council cannot run without them and they can’t be filled any way else. The managerial staff is down 47%; outdoor staff is down by 32%. Much of this relates to age profile, etc. We are not in a position to continue to fill jobs. If we want to fill any job in 2014 it has to be tied into a business case and a manpower plan for the organisation. We are working through a manpower plan with regard to the number of staff on the ground. It has to be approved by Department. But the review of Local Government envisaged significant reductions in numbers anyway, so the Department will review our manpower plan in that light.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Asked for the difference in two processes. The gist of the motion is still lost. Was there any effort made by the Executive to replace outdoor staff? Or are we going to privatise it all?
CE: That is not the position we are in. Won’t get drawn into that argument. There have been staff movements across areas, staff sharing, all staff have been co-operative. Process is very clear. We have to say to Department that we cannot fill a post by job-sharing, etc.
Mayor: Minister Howlin has decreed that the embargo is going to continue. There is no point in our fighting amongst ourselves – we need to address this issue with the Minister.
CE: You can also ask me whether we applied to replace clerical staff? Administrative staff? They do the same type of work. The fact is that none of our staff have had promotional opportunities for the last number years. Real issue with regard to our staff. But there is a moratorium in place and the positions have been filled only in critical circumstances. These include firefighters, lifeguards, and many other similar posts that you got in a report a few weeks ago.
Cllr Doyle (FF): We would all like to support lifting of the embargo but would like to make the point that all staff whether on schemes or otherwise, are welcomed and treated equally.
Cllr McCarthy (SF): Has the executive made the argument strongly enough to the Department that they would like the embargo lifted?
Cllr O’Donovan (FG): Not happy with this. There’s been full support for the lifting of the embargo.
Cllr Dawson (FG): Supports what Cllr Doyle has said. Knows people who have been on schemes; have enjoyed it, benefited from it and have got jobs out of it.
CE: Gateway scheme is a national scheme that we are happy to facilitate both for the workers and the County Council organisation. It is entirely a matter for the CE to deal with all matters in relation to staff. Have no problem in giving information but when it comes to detailed manpower planning, it is my job. I guard this close to my heart and I do not intend to share with Council why I am filling a post or not.
10. Councillor Donnchadh O’Laoghaire:
That Cork County Council would adopt
a) a painting grants scheme similar to that in Cork City Council for historical and locally important streets and districts within Cork’s Towns and Suburbs
b) a scheme similar to that in Cork City where whereby tourist information is displayed on derelict buildings.”
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): A painting grants scheme has been running in Cork City Council for a number of years. Has been fairly successful. Provides grant funding each year. The improvement that has been seen has been valuable and noticeable. Would be of benefit in the County. Is too large to be applied everywhere, but could be used in historic and important suburbs and towns. Valuable in restoring our town centres. Did consider bringing this forward at Municipal District level but thinks it needs recognition throughout the county for consistency.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Seconds the motion. Supports both aspects of it strongly. Came from Passage West Town Council, as did several other Members. We ran a painting scheme in Passage West for 3 or 4 years. Was slow to take off in the first year but thereafter made a huge difference. Also supports the second part of the motion. Through our local Tidy Towns group we tried to use vacant shop windows to display photographs of our work and to display local art. Although we offered to maintain external ground floor of buildings we might use, we got a no from the building owners because of insurance. This is an issue that could be solved at Council level. So thinks the first part of the motion would be best run at Municipal District level but the second perhaps at full County level.
CE: Recognises the value of these schemes. Have been used in Youghal and other places also. Thinks Architects Department should work on this. Could give scheme to Municipal Districts then. Money could be put aside then by Municipal Districts to implement the scheme as appropriate. Recognises the value of having strong groups liaise with business owners in towns so will try to address insurance issue described.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Would prefer the proposal to be County-wide but if it comes from the Architect’s Department, we will look at it. Part (b) – tourism information is only a small scheme in the City. Any response on this?
CE: Will ask the Architects Department for a package of ideas – we’ll come back to this.
(6 FG in chamber now; 7 Ind; 7 SF; 3 FF)
11. Councillor Kevin Murphy:
“That Members of Cork County Council be informed on the following:-
The total amount of land currently in Council ownership in particular 1). The land purchased since 2000, the location of these 2). The purchased cost per acre and 3). The interest payable annually on monies borrowed for these lands and that the CEO would outline his proposals for these lands going forward.”
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Do we need all the land we have? This query was raised to try to stem the flow of money going out on interest. €1.77 m per year. Ongoing drain on Council coffers. Overall, what is the story for the future use of those lands? Looking for a plan of action to utilise our property portfolio to the best benefit of the Council. Thanks Richie very seriously for this information distributed.
Cllr K McCarthy (SF): Asks about 1 acre in Cobh. No mention of lands he knows that have been handed over to Cork County Council more recently.
CE: The lands on the list distributed are those on our asset register at the end of 2013. A property doesn’t appear on our asset register until the title is transferred. They will appear in the 2014 AFS. Many of these lands are amenity lands, open spaces, parks. There are some housing lands in there. We have a very active property management section which is on top of the landbank we have. We have some let out for grazing. Some of the housing lands were purchased in and around 2000 as encouraged by the DoE. There are significant costs now associated with these. Any of those lands that were deemed to be surplus to our requirements were transferred to the housing finance agency. A lot of those lands are still on our books. The scheme is not really working properly. We’d like to get surplus lands off our books so that we don’t have to pay interest on them any more.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): How active are we in selling off land?
CE: Our decisions are based on whether or not we might have future need, is the time right to dispose of it. We are extremely active. We have a very good property section which manages leases, lettings and landbanks. Hard to respond to one or two specific queries now but will discuss them outside if required.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Just wondering whether there is any way we can reduce our interest.
12. Councillor Rachel McCarthy:
“That this Council acknowledges the long waiting time for Local Authority Tenants in respect of housing adaptations and calls for the Government to allocate extra funding to local authorities for same.”
Deferred until next full Council meeting.
13. Councillor Deirdre Forde:
“Cork County Council supports The Carers Association call on the Minister for Social Protection to amend the Social Welfare Bill to make provision for the restoration of the Respite Care Grant.”
Deferred until next full Council meeting.
14. Councillor Noel Collins:
“That this Council request the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and the Minister for Housing to investigate and remedy the serious plight of older separated men and women with marital and relationship problems, particularly in their quest for social housing.”
Cllr N Collins (Ind): This is where a man who has left the family home more than 20 years ago and went to look for work. These men are part time owners of a family home so they don’t qualify for housing. They don’t get rent allowance because they are not on the housing list. They have small pensions. They can go to court but their spouses are now elderly. He could transfer full ownership to his former wife so that he could go on the Council housing list. Then he is very much the loser. Hopes the government can rectify this in the new housing leasing scheme to offer older men some security. It may not be your problem today but it may be some day.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Serious issue and is on the programme of work for the Housing SPC. It isn’t just older people. It applies across the board when someone’s name stays on the family home. This has been a problem for some time. We intend to tease this out and see if we can come up with a solution.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Recently spoke at International Violence against Women conference. Massive issue with them. Very important motion. People cannot be housed because of the vetting system if the spouse has a record. We do need to work on it in an SPC and in certain serious cases we have to look at how we house people. Also many have mortgages and once in property ownership it is very difficult to go on housing list.
Cllr G Murphy (FG): Supports the motion. Glad the SPC is looking at it. Thinks one-bedroom houses are a disaster because they don’t allow people stay over, etc. as people get older. So this all needs to be looked at as soon as possible.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Very valid point. Are we going to make progress through the SPC? Hopes that from a national point of view this will be addressed pretty soon. Obviously we can’t work here if it is not worked out nationally first.
Cllr Doyle (FF): Supports and welcomes SPC movement on this. Huge issue with separated men and women who cannot get on the housing list because they are part owners of houses. Agree that one-bedroom houses are no longer an option.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): Supports the motion. Has worked with distressed mortgage holders and has found that many men have left the family home. We have looked after families in this scenario and an equalisation of that is absolutely necessary.
Cllr J Murphy (SF): We do get many people who through no fault of their own their marriage has broken down. Sometimes there are real health issues too. Had one case where a woman had to sign away all right to her house to get on the housing list. This is wrong when someone puts that amount of years and effort into a marriage and children.
Cllr N Collins (Ind): Happy with the response. Didn’t expect it. If it could be included in the new leasing scheme it will solve the problem.
Mayor: We will write to the Minister and address it through the SPC.
15. Councillor Michael Collins:
“The recent budget gave 90% reduction in capital acquisitions tax to full time active farmers inheriting land. The Minister’s proposal is:
A. They must be full time farmers i.e. people spending more that 50% of their time farming the land.
B. Non farmers or part time farmers other than full time farmers will get the relief but they must lease their land to full time farmers for set number of years.
This budget proposal by the Minister places part time farmers in the same category i.e. farmers spending less than 50% of their time in the same categories of non farmers, this is grossly unfair to the 30% of farmers who will be forced to lease their land for up to 6 years.
This is an unfair disadvantage for part time famers. I note that 30% of farmers in Ireland have a job outside of farming in order to survive and these will be severely effected by this proposal. I am asking the Minister to relook at this proposal in the budget in order to be fair to part time farmers and I am asking my colleagues to support my motion today.”
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): Seconds the motion. Many farmers in North and West Cork are small farmers and need part-time work to continue farming. This will have a detrimental effect on the farming community. Hopes it will get support.
Cllr G Murphy (FG): There is an intention by the minister to consolidate land in order to progress agriculture. But agrees with some of the sentiments expressed and recognises that many famers are part-time farmers. Pretty sure that the farmers he represents are reasonably happy. The finance bill is in the final stages so hopefully we will get a satisfactory outcome that will meet the genuine concerns of farmers here.
Cllr Hurley (Ind): Fully supportive as a farmer myself. This is the sting in the tail of what is a reasonable proposal by government. Motion is well worded. Farmers don’t choose to go out to work – they have to.
Cllr Hayes (SF): Supports and thinks motion is well put. Many farmers cannot survive on the farm income alone. This cut will have a big effect on them. Some of us will be attending the Minister’s Constituency office next Saturday morning so you are all welcome to join.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Has real problem with that. Asking people to protest within the Council Chamber.
Cllr N O’Donovan (FG): Supports the farmers in West Cork. National figure of 30% is much higher in West Cork. The attempt by the Minister is worthy: to free up land to speed up the transfer of land to young farmers. But it needs tweaking.
(2 FF in chamber, 9 FG, 7 Ind, 7 SF in the Chamber)
16. Councillor June Murphy:
“That this Council supports The Carers Association call on the Minister for Social Protection to amend the Social Welfare Bill to make provision for the restoration of the Respite Care Grant.”
Deferred to next full Council meeting.
17. Councillor Pat Buckley:
“I ask that this Council would make provisions for funding for public lighting and a new footpath in Castlemartyr. The primary area concerned is a section of road where the R632 meets the N25″
Cllr McCarthy (FG): This was my motion at Municipal District level and I was told it would be dealt with in 2015.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): This is crazy – we don’t have enough time for the agenda and Municipal District issues need to be kept at Municipal District level.
Cllr M Hegarty (FG): This issue has been highlighted quite a number of times at Municipal District. It is well highlighted.
Mayor to Cllr Buckley – we’ll give you a little grace this time.
Cllr Buckley (SF): I brought it up here because the Municipal District isn’t working. This is happening county-wide. Wants it debated here because it is really important. Read letter addressed to himself as Secretary of Castlemartyr Community Council. We are finding issues like this extremely difficult to slot into the right place so that they are dealt with.
Mayor: Is an issue of funding – especially footpath and lighting budgets.
18. Councillor Des O’Grady:
“To seek a written report on the persistent and ongoing problems with the public water supply system in the Crookstown area including the failure of the authorities to notify local residents of test results, for over a year after drinking water testing by Cork County Council in July 2013 revealed dangerously unsafe levels of lead in their water supply.”
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Thanks the County Engineer for the comprehensive report. The problem that has arisen in the water system has been there for a long time. Spoke of several individual situations. Two wells in Bellmount – one only 35m from a septic tank and the other deemed hazardous by the EPA. Up to last week, both wells serving Crookstown have been capable of causing hazard to the people. Water is hard, destroys kitchen implements. The lead exceedence that was not reported to residents for over 12 months is the greatest concern. This was an instruction from the HSE and it was very dangerous. Mains needs to be replaced in this system. Lead piping needs to be removed also. Would like an explanation of what happened between HSE and Cork County Council and why the information was withheld. Would like Minister Kelly to make this a priority. If the system breaks down again, will the water be brought from the risky wells or will it be brought from elsewhere?
Cllr Creed (FG): Working on this for the last 5 years. The big issue has been the water supply coming from two different supplies. There is now one supply from Cloughduv. There were 2 huge problems: one was the boil water notice that was in a terrace for 3 – 4 years. The other is the lead and colour in their water. Have got assurances over last number of years that there was no danger in drinking the water. Had to reassure consumers. Agreed with the residents that it looked awful. Irish Water has come in for a lot of criticism but at least it has been working on the supply and there is now a new supply. The water is very hard and some of the people say it is not nice to drink. Agrees with Cllr O’Grady that the residents were not notified of the results of the test. Failed to get an answer on this. 12 months for results of test to come through is too long.
Cllr Lucey (FG): People of Crookstown went through a lot. There is a lot more work to be done there. We have to keep the pressure on.
County Engineer: With the new source of supply, we are hoping the lead exceedences will be resolved. Tests were done in 2010 and each of the householders was informed that there were issues with lead exceedences on their properties. This would have been the same info given in 2013. The HSE had asked nationally that this advice be continued because they were producing a joint position paper on lead with the EPA. Then Irish Water took over, properties were retested in August 2013 and letters were distributed to individual properties. So not fair to say that householders were not aware. Lead piping was also on householder side and they would have been advised that this was their responsibility to replace.
Network in Bishop Galvin Terrace is replaced. Asbestos breaks – if these are as bad as indicated, the issue will be looked at by Irish Water.
Cllr Creed (FG): Samples taken were taken from the old supply and not the new supply. Surely the issue should be that there should be samples taken from the new supply? They knew it was coming on stream.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): On testing in 2010 vs testing in 2013. I understand that you can test for lead today and it is there, but that you can test again next day and it is not. Figures from 2013 and 14 are 4 and 5 times higher than limits of acceptability. Please write to the Minister, thank him for pushing this with Irish Water and ask that Irish Water go further.
Cllr Ryan (FF): New tests would want to be carried out from the new water source so that people feel safe. New reports need to be done quickly by Cork County Council so that Irish Water will get the works done asap.
19. Councillor Kevin O’Keeffe:
“Given the upsurge of motor vehicle engines being damaged owing to the use of fuel that has been tampered with, that Cork County Council call on the Government to empower Customs & Excise Officers to test the fuel in holding tanks on Forecourts.”
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): This practice creates untold damage to cars. Damage can be €2k – €4k worth. In many cases new engines have to be bought. Am now told it is impossible almost to tell if petrol has been tampered with or not. Suggests an amendment of the motion. Most people don’t have comprehensive insurance on their vehicles.
Cllr N Collins (Ind): Heard of prosecutions for tampering with whiskey and penalties were severe. Hopes similar penalties will be issued for these similar acts of vandalism!
[f] CORRESPONDENCE FROM OTHER BODIES
20. Brian Crowley, MEP.
Letter dated 5th November, 2014, enclosing letter from the Minister for Health regarding the fluoridation of public water.
Dealt with under fluoridation.
[g] VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS
22. ANY OTHER BUSINESS