Meeting of Cork County Council, 14th December 2015
[a] CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
1. Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 23rd November, 2015.
Cllr Hegarty (FG) would like amendment to page 9 – Waterrock and Carrigtwohill Masterplan – “which will include”.
Minutes proposed and seconded.
CE: Capital budget will be 2nd meeting in January.
[b] VOTES OF SYMPATHY
2. 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 from:
Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF)
Cllr Dawson (FG)
Cllr Doyle (FF)
Cllr McGrath (FF)
Cllr McCarthy (FG)
Cllr Murphy (FG) welcomes Cllr Noel McCarthy (formerly Lab) to Fine Gael. Speaks about his vast experience. FG started off with 16, now we’re 17 and the door is always open for others!
Cllrs Collins (Ind) and O’Keeffe (FF) also spoke.
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF) asked for a suspension of standing orders at 1pm to discuss the recent Paris agreement on climate change.
[c] STATUTORY BUSINESS
3. Disposal of Property: Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
Ballincollig/Carrigaline Municipal District, 16th November, 2015:
(a). Grant of Wayleave at Bramble Hill, Castletreasure, Co. Cork.
East Cork Municipal District, 7th September, 2015:
(b). Disposal of 2 Woodview Court, Youghal, Co. Cork.
(c). Disposal of 27 Rosary Place, Midleton, Co. Cork.
(d). Disposal of lands at Laurence Kelly Terrace, Killeagh, Co. Cork.
(e). Disposal of 10 Raheen Park, Youghal, Co. Cork.
(f). Disposal of 43 Rosary Place, Midleton, Co. Cork.
(g). Disposal of 2 & 3 McAllister Way, Castlemagner, Co. Cork.(h). Disposal of 52 Liam McGearailt Place, Fermoy, Co. Cork.
(i). Amendment to Disposal of The Quadrants, Ballincollig, by the substitution of “Co-Operative Housing Ireland” in lieu of “NABCO” being the persons to whom the properties are to be disposed.
(j). Amendment to Disposal of Lands (5.857 acres) at Little Island, Co. Cork, by the substitution of “Patrick O’Driscoll” in lieu of “Val & Patrick O’Driscoll” being the person to whom the property is to be disposed.
Proposed and seconded.
4. Section 4(2) and Sections 32-35 of the Local Community Development Committee (Section 128E) Regulations 2014 (SI No. 234 of 2014):
Filling of casual vacancy on the West Cork Local Community Development Committee
“A casual vacancy has arisen on the West Cork LCDC. In accordance with the provisions of Section 4(2) and Sections 32-35 of the Local Community Development Committee (Section 128E) Regulations 2014 (SI No. 234 of 2014), the approval of the members is sought for the appointment of Mr. Kevin Curran, Substitute Head of LEO as a replacement representative for Local Enterprise Office on the West Cork LCDC. The previous nominee Mr. Michael Hanley is hereby de-selected.”
Proposed and seconded.
5. Section 5 of the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 & 1995: Consideration of and observations in regard to the proposed River Bride (Blackpool) Certified Drainage Scheme.
Report from the CE: Blackpool Drainage OPW
CE: This is a scheme that is advertised by the OPW for Blackpool. There is an opportunity for Council to make its observations on this scheme by early February. Council staff will give a briefing to the relevant Municipal District.
[d] FINANCIAL BUSINESS
6. “That Cork County Council is authorised to borrow by way of overdraft a sum not exceeding €10m for the twelve month period ending 31st December, 2016, subject to the sanction of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government.”
Proposed and seconded.
[e] REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMITTEES
7. Corporate Policy Group:
(a). Approval of attendance by Council members at Conferences on the Conference List for December, 2015 approved by the Corporate Policy Group at their meeting on the 8th December, 2015.
Proposed and seconded.
(b). Nomination of Member to the Board of the Crawford Art Gallery.
Letter from Dept of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht: Crawford Art Gallery
Claire Cullinane proposed by Cllr Hurley (Ind)
Susan McCarthy proposed by Cllr Murphy (FG)
Vote taken: Cullinane – 20; McCarthy – 23
(c). Approval of Financial Contribution of €10,000 to Cork City Sports.
Proposed and seconded.
Cllr Conway (Ind): Recognition should be given on the day to Cork County Council contribution. No recognition was given on the day last year. Recognition was given to City Council only.
Cllr Canty (FG): We have always given a grant to Cork City Sports when we are asked. We present at one event only but we’re giving money and although it is a great thing for Cork City, the recognition we get is very minimal. Same with Cork Opera House. Time that the Cork City Sports Committee – who do great work – must acknowledge Cork County Council’s contribution.
8. Development Committee:
“That Cork County Council supports the principles set out in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Charter for Fair Conditions of Work.”
This motion arose from a presentation given to the Development Committee. Supported.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): When Cork County Council does business with outside contractors, please try to endeavour that they are in compliance with the Charter.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Cork County Council should do what it can to support this in a practical way. We have already spoken about Gateway and a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Public authorities should lead the way in terms of workers’ rights for a living wage.
9. 1916 Commemoration Committee: Approval of grants under Cork County Council’s 2016 Centenary Programme
Projects under the 2016 Centenary Programme: 2016 UPDATE
Cllr O’Flynn introduced this as chairperson of the 1916 committee. Spoke about the tremedous array of projects which have been grant-funded for 1916 commemoration.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF) and others commend Conor Nelligan, Cork County Council.
10. Kanturk/Mallow Municipal District:
REPORT UNDER SECTION 179 PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT ACT 2000 – Traffic Calming Scheme R620 and L9045 at Gooldshill, Mallow, Co. Cork.
CE’s report: Gooldshill Mallow Part 8 Managers Report Nov15
Proposed and seconded.
11. Environment & Emergency Services SPC:
“That Cork County Council condemns the recent announcement by the ESB that;
- From the 1st January next free access to electric vehicle charging points is to be removed
- A monthly fee for such access is to be introduced
- Additional per charge fees are to apply to use of high-speed three-phase charging points
The Council views the introduction of these charges as being unjustified and untenable and completely at odds with a policy that seeks to increase the use of electric vehicles.
The Council asks that the charges be immediately rescinded and that furthermore, so as to bring clarity to existing and potential users, a period of years be specified during which no such charges will be introduced.”
Cllr Murphy introduced the motion as chairperson of the SPC.
Cllr M Hegarty (FG): Totally supports. The ESB’s move defeats the whole purpose. Even the initial cost of electric cars is substantial.
Cllr Canty (FG): Chicken and egg situation. At the moment there is a charge and who is going to pay for the electricity in the long run? There has to be a charge because the ordinary electricity user will pay for it. If I drive my car I have to pay for petrol. At the end of the day, someone will pay for it and it will be the ordinary people who will end up paying for it through their taxes, etc.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Also a member of the Environment SPC and entirely supports what Cllr Murphy has said. Transport makes up more than 20% of our entire national greenhouse gas emissions. It is also the area of fastest growth in emissions. In the last 25 years – since the early 1990s – the number of cars on our roads has gone up 150%. Our transport is 99% dependent on imported fuels. This costs the country about €3.5 billion every year. Under the Renewable Energy Supply Directive, Ireland is obliged to have 10% of transport energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. So the government set a target of having 230,000 cars on the road to be electric by 2020. But at the current rate of purchase, only about 50,000 electric cars will be on Irish roads by 2020 – miles short of our target. One of the reason for this is that the Nissan Leaf, one of the most popular electric cars, has a theoretical maximum range of 200km but a real maximum range of 120km. So if you are driving from Cork to Dublin you have to stop to charge? The batteries are not sufficiently developed to go the whole journey in one go. You cannot slow charge: that takes overnight, so you use a fast charging point in a garage. But in Ireland, there are only about 150 fast charging points available publicly. And now the price of using these fast charging points is going up. Why would we penalise those who are willing to take the inconvenience and make that extra effort to drive a cleaner car? In Norway, the goal was to reach 50,000 zero emissions vehicles by 2018. Their incentives to drive electric cars have been so successful that by September this year, they had over 66,000 of them on the road. Way past their national target. But in Ireland, we are not even close to reaching ours.
Cllr Hayes (SF): We have to incentivise people if we have to make a change. This needs a huge change of direction. With the Paris summit, we are going to be penalised for not meeting our targets. Is working with a group in West Cork who is offering a taxi service using electric cars. Very positive initiative. We have to put the infrastructrure in place to support the use of electric cars.
Cllr Coleman (Ind): Supports. If we had filling stations charging you to come into the filling station first and then charging you for the fuel as well, it would be totally unacceptable.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Not merely do we have to import transport, spoke also of localised exhaust emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles which cause local respiratory issues. We need to encourage alternative modes of transport that do not rely on fossil fuels and so supports the motion.
Cllr Forde (FG): Local government was recognised as having a pivotal role in determining the outcome of what we will achieve arising from the Paris summit. Whatever we decide locally will be of utmost importance and those at national level will have to recognise that. All week when the media was talking about the flooding, not one associated the flooding with climate change. We always heard that people were not doing enough. There is a responsibility on every one of us and the Council should have programmes at local level to highlight this.
Motion passed and we will write to the ESB.
12. Tourism SPC:
Approval of Draft Trails for Tourism – A Policy to maximise the economic benefit to the County.
Draft Trails Policy: Trails for Tourism Report December 8th
Cllr Coleman (Ind): Introduces as chairperson of the Tourism SPC. The aim of the policy is to maximise the economic benefit of trails to the county. The draft policy has eight key proposals. The appointment of a Trails Coordinator is the most important of these. We are hoping a European project we are involved in will fund this. That will propel the policy into a reality. It would be good both for the people of the county and for tourism. The aim is to try to make Cork a centre for walking tourism. Particularly want to focus on family-centric and child-friendly trails. Refers to the Lake District and how they have optimised on this.
Cllr Conway (Ind): Welcomes the document. There seems to be a deficit of trails in Cork. Take the source of the River Lee all the way to Cork Harbour: there is massive potential there to develop trails for cycling, walking and others. Is hoping these will be thought of as the trails policy develops. Wishes the Tourism SPC the best with this.
Cllr M Hegarty (FG): Welcomes the document. Sheeps Head walk is worth €18m to the local economy. Hopes we will see a Camino type walk in Cork in due course with all the trails linked up.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Draft policy is very good. Refers to the National Trails Office register. Was very disappointed to see that the National Trails Office register does not have any cycling trails in County Cork marked at all, even though we have some excellent both on road and off road trails.
Cllr Canty (FG): Congratulates those who put draft policy together. A few trails are indeed left out but these can be amended. Spoke of Ballincollig trail. Document will be ready for the incoming tourist season.
Cllr PG Murphy (FF): Many of our trails have been recently fitted with counters. The counter at Dursey Island showed the highest amount of passers of any walks in Ireland. We need to provide the services associated with walkers as we are expanding the trails.
Cllr Hayes (SF): Delighted to see this coming together in the last few months. West Cork is very proud of its natural heritage. This is a way of putting it all together, increasing signage, etc. Will be a very impressive package to bring to the market. The Sheep’s Head Way is very positive and the Clonakilty Cycle Scheme will be expanded next year.
Mayor: Very inspirational document and will be great for the county in terms of its future.
CE: Commends the staff for taking this opportunity in conjunction with the SPC. Key to this is not just listing what trails we have but linking the various elements of the tourism product we have to the trails. We are fully supportive of the partnership approach taken to this. We need to capture and brand. We are starting to emerge as a leader in tourism development. Looking forward to working on this going forward.
Cllr Coleman (Ind): Acknowledging the work put in by Louis, Rose and the team in putting this together.
Taking all flooding motions together:
13. West Cork Municipal District:
“The Members of the Municipal District of West Cork call on the OPW to review the existing Arterial Drainage Districts in West Cork to assess their capacity to cope with severe weather events”.
14. Bandon/Kinsale Municipal District:
“This Council calls on the Office of Public Works to engage in the following manner with the members of the Municipal District of Bandon Kinsale in relation to the proposed Bandon Flood Relief scheme: –
1. to meet urgently with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District and give an update on the progress of the scheme to date
2. to identify any interim works that can be carried out, before the main scheme is completed to alleviate any possible future flooding
3. to carry out interim works indentified
4. to give a project progress time line to the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District outlining the key milestones in the project and when they are expected to be delivered
5. to meet with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District and provide regular updates on the progress of the scheme.
This Council also calls on Simon Harris T.D., Minister of State at the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of the Taoiseach with Special Responsibility for the OPW, Public procurement, and International Banking (incl. IFSC) to ensure that the Office of Public Works engages as set out above with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.
Bandon Main Drainage
This Council calls on Irish Water to engage in the following manner with the members of the Municipal District of Bandon Kinsale in relation to the proposed Bandon Main Drainage Scheme: –
- to meet urgently with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District and give an update on the progress of the scheme to date
- to give a project progress time line to the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District outlining the key milestones in the project and when they are expected to be delivered
- to meet on a regular basis with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District and give updates on the progress of the scheme
This Council also calls on Alan Kelly, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to ensure that Irish Water engages as set out above with the members of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.”
24. Councillor Rachel McCarthy:
“That this Council acknowledges the damage caused to businesses & homes in Bandon as a result of the flooding on Saturday 5th December. In relation to same, that the businesses which have been affected will immediately be exempt from paying rates until such a time that the Main Drainage and Flood Relief schemes have been delivered for the town.”
Councillor Michael Collins:
“I call on the Cork County Council to provide emergency funds for businesses severely effected in the last number weeks and months by flooding either to their business premises or to roads leading to their businesses. These people who are paying rates and employing people have had a serious loss of income due to these major disruptions. I call on the Cork County Council to grant aid these businesses through a fund like the town development fund or if not freeze rates for these people until they get back on their feet again. It is in the interest of the Cork County Council that we give all the support we can to these businesses so they can continue to carry on through this difficult time.”
Cllr J O’Donovan (FG): Introduced the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District motion as the chari of the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District. There was an emergency meeting in Bandon Town Hall last week. The Council is at the mercy of the OPW on the Bandon flood relief scheme. We want an up-to-date progress report on the scheme to date. We want interim works which can be done to be identified. Because the scheme will take two years even if it gets the go-ahead. It has to go ahead in May. We want that confirmation. We want regular updates every 6 months so we are not kept in the dark as we have been all along. We are meeting with Simon Harris later and we are also asking him to urge the OPW to meet with us.
The second half of the motion deals with Irish Water and the main drainage. We now understand it is being pushed out again. This scheme cannot be pushed out any more. It needs to go ahead in tandem with the flood relief scheme. Bandon is being held to ranson. It can’t surface roads, it can’t do anything. We want to meet with Irish Water.
Glad of the €5m put in by the Red Cross. Commends the staff in Cork County Council who worked through the night to help the local traders. Thanks all those who were involved, including the traders and the people of Bandon. Last night, the Friends of Bandon organised an event. It was very well supported and the Christmas spirit was restored.
It is key that we will no longer be held in the dark with regard to commencment dates for both schemes. We need answers and progress.
Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF): Sat Dec 5th, Bandon was badly flooded again, five and a half years after flood relief was promised. We have had legal challenges, design changes and start-stop situations. Both of the two schemes were to have run in tandem. They have – the tandem of zero delivery. Previous flood victims cannot get insurance. People live in fear of flooding. The town is held to ransom. The OPW and Irish Water need to act. Will also be fighting to get the flood relief works in Skibbereen commenced.
Cllr O’Sullivan (FF): Speaking on Item 13 on the agenda. After the September/October heavy rainfall, it came to light that the engineers who came to the Municipal District meetings shared our concerns with regard to the prospect of more rainfall. There was much Council money spent in emergency works after these rainfall events and there was a fear that they would all be washed away in the next rainfall event. They were. The old Arterial Drainage Scheme would go a long way towards preventing more damage to roads. Supports those in the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District. Message needs to go loud and clear to government. Drainage works are being carried out in Clonakilty in terms of surface water on the street. Even still, people of Clonakilty were on edge during the recent storm events.
Cllr R McCarthy (SF): We watched the water resurface on the streets of Bandon with horror. Had just been elected to Bandon Town Council in 2009 when the last major flooding happened. Had no faith in the dates we were given at that time with regard to implementation of the flood relief scheme and that has sadly come to be true. The dates Irish Water delivered last week were horrifying. They will not be going to tender until 2016, with the contract awarded in February 2017. Possibly the main drainage will be finished in 2018. That’s a disgrace after waiting since 2009. We acknowledge the flooding in other areas and our thoughts are with those affected but we have to look to our own and support the businesses in the town. People came to march on the streets and that wasn’t just traders. A great show of solidarity. Hoping for a good meeting with Simon Harris today. There are 60 businesses in Bandon petitioning on a no floods relief, no rates basis. They are looking for an investment in Bandon.
Cllr M Collins (Ind): Calls on Cork County Council to have a serious look at the situation we have found ourselves in in the last number of months. We have had flooding in Mizen, Goleen and Crookhaven which had a serious impact on businesses. They literally closed down. Doesn’t call for rates relief lightly. This is what the people are asking for. They are under severe pressure leading to loss of jobs and closure of their business. The Town Development Fund perhaps should be looked at as a compensatory package. Welcomes that Simon Harris is coming to West Cork. Welcomes the compensatory packages that have been put in place but there are many who need help from those packages that it is not reaching. If some of these businesses go out of business there is a loss to the Council. If we can’t pull off a rates rebate, we should examine what we can do through the Town Development Fund.
Cllr Coleman (Ind): The flood relief scheme has been in the tender prcess since November 2013. It is being managed by the OPW and their consultants. Is there incompentence there that the tender was legally challenged? The OPW and their consultants backed down in court – that indicates that they were wrong. This has been repoted as being a very poorly managed tender process. There may well be further leaks in the process. With respect to Irish Water and the main drainage proposals, since Irish Water took this project over, they have been constantly moving the goalposts. Their consultants are now talking about reviewing the mains water pipe going through the town. There is a proposal for a rates freeze but both schemes are being funded out of the national purse, not the local purse. Would prefer to look at relief on VAT and income tax which is what is really funding these schemes. That is where will hurt the most.
Cllr Murphy (FG): Cork County Council has come under a lot of blame for the flooding in Bandon. They should be exonerated. The OPW has a huge role to play here in informing the members who will in turn inform the traders and residents of Bandon. Agrees that the delays are unacceptable. We need to contact Irish Water immediately and agrees with the sentiments expressed so far by all the members.
Cllr M Hegarty (FG): Welcomes the Minister who is coming to Skibbereen. Hopes to speak first hand on what we have said already. Arterial drainage is very important. Would like to see a scheme like the arterial drainage scheme put in place again. Our engineers are doing everything they can but this is an opportune time this afternoon to speak to our Minister. Feels for the traders because this is the busiest time of the year.
Cllr PG Murphy (FF): It appears the OPW is not fit for purpose. This is not the first time. They have also made a mess of dealing with old buildings. We need to plan for these events. They will happen and we know they are going to happen.
Cllr Hayes (SF): Gives support to all the motions on the floor on this topic. Send sympathies especially to the residents in Bandon. Very upsetting to see people losing so much of their livelihoods. Commends the Council and emergency services who helped. We need to put pressure on the OPW. Is pleased to see Minister Harris visiting Bandon and Skibbereen today. We have had huge frustration in both towns and the buck stops with the OPW. There have also been cuts of €16m to the OPW in recent years. This is not helping. Asks that the Minister would provide the €40k needed to provide pumps for the Dunmanway area in particualr. At present, the area is being kept pumped through the goodwill of local contractors. Had a motion to the Municipal District last year about clearing of rivers. All these measures help.
Cllr Lombard (FG): Concurs with all sentiments. Yesterday’s street festival was a great credit to Bandon and to those who supported them. A meeting with the Irish Water officials and with the OPW is very important. The districts need to move with these people to progress the situation. The flood relief scheme is a €25m project from the OPW. It needs to be driven forward.
Cllr Hurley (Ind): This is a very serious debate that comes up time and time again. Ministers Kelly and Harris need to be here to listen. We are six years waiting for flood relief schemes that have still not yet started. We hear now there is another year at least before the Bandon scheme goes to tender. There is massive silting of the rivers. The Minister should not leave West Cork today without commiting that work will be done on the ground.
Cllr A Moynihan (FF): There is substantial funding left unspent and it is so frustrating for local residents and traders. Low cost cleaning, etc. is valuable but it is not enough. The overall flood defence is really what is needed. We need to see those overall flood defences advanced, whether on the Lee or whatever.
Mayor: Spoke in sympathy with the people.
CE: Circulated a report which details our level of preparedness, our response, etc. Such a report is normally done after a major event like this. Cork County Council was working all weekend to assess the situation because the severe weather had not gone away. We had expected this weekend to be worse. It was controllable, partly because the rain did not fall as heavily as expected and partly because of people’s efforts on the ground. This impact was not just in Bandon and Skibbereen; it was all over the county. The number of people impacted in the county is probably the highest in the country. Commends all those in Cork County Council and our fire and emergency services. Civil defence is also part of our organisation. Important that the work of our own staff does not get lost in the response of the other agencies. Knows some staff were up for 24 and 48 hours. Knows many business people were also. We need clarity on what the next phases are. Bandon and Skibbereen flood relief schemes are probably the most advanced in the country. They are both out to tender and tenders are due in in January. The next 5 – 6 months are critical for both of those schemes. The need to communicate is paramount. We will write on foot of the motion to the OPW. Knows from discussions at the highest level with the OPW that the need for communication is recognised. The government’s humanitarian scheme is targeted at small businesses that have been unable to get flood insurance. Will be administered through the Red Cross. The government will make initial payments prior to Christmas to return buildings to their pre-flood condition. The scheme does not give compensation. It is targeted at small businesses with up to 20 employees. There is a link to this on the Cork County Council website. Compensation is capped at €20k. There are qualifications. Applications under the scheme will be made to the relevant local authority.
On rates: We get through times like this as an organisation. We have always been respectful of businesses. Business needs also to recognise that Cork County Council provides an excellent service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The businesses funds pay for this. The flooding is not Cork County Council’s fault. We can put in place a range of flexible measures to help businesses in difficulty. Legally we would struggle to do it and as an organisation we have never done it. Emergency funds have been put in place by government – rightly so. We have already responded to a specific request from the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District over the weekend. There is a case for examining what the Town Development Fund can do. Any business that has been impacted negatively and has a difficulty in paying rates, contact us and we will come to an arrangement with them. Cork County Council is not the body that has not performed in this sitaution. We performed admirably and we will continue to do so.
Cllr J O’Donovan (FG): Thanks everyone. Hopes we can go on and talk to the OPW and to Irish Water.
Cllr R McCarthy (SF): Is aware the rates system is an old one. The request for a stop on rates came from the traders themselves. If the traders cannot trade because of their overheads and outgoings, …. We don’t want to see any businesses close. The €5k went a long way. Is there something we can do through the Economic Development Fund to support businesses specifically? We need a support mechanism in place for businesses. Cork County Council did have involvement until 2013 with the main drainage.
I had to leave the Chamber for a few minutes.
[f] REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF OFFICERS
14. Consideration of the Chief Executive’s Report on Submissions Received to the Proposed Amendment No. 2 to the Bantry E.A. Local Area Plan 2011 – Retail Development in Bantry Town.
[g] CORRESPONDENCE FROM GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS
15. Department of Social Protection:
Letter dated 26th November, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 21st September, regarding those who are unemployed and not on the Live Register.
Letter from the Dept of Social Protection: Dept of Social Protection
[h] NOTICES OF MOTION
16. Councillor Joe Harris:
“That this Council register it extreme concern at the targeting of young people by the Gambling industry through aggressive marketing both on and off line. Furthermore that this Council communicate to the government that urgent action must be taken to protect people from the massive onslaught through all forms of media advertising that promote gambling.”
Cllr Harris (Ind): Online gambling addiction is equivalent to crack cocaine. Massive advertising campaign on TV during sporting events is obscene. Targets young adults in particular. Addiction clinics are reporting a massive increase. People on lower incomes are more vulnerable. Property and social crimes increase. There are mental and emotional issues to the families involved. Asking that the Council would register its extreme concern at this. This issue seems to be completely ignored and the feedback is that it is becoming a major problem.
Cllr Conway (Ind): Supports and seconds the motion. We are all aware of the effect this has on young people.
We will write to the Department.
17. Councillor Des O’Grady:
“That this Council calls for the establishment of a Housing Co-Ordination Task Force for the supply of Social and Private Housing in Cork. The task force to comprise of representatives from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Finance, both Cork Local Authorities, Irish Water, the National Transport Authority, NAMA and Voluntary Housing Agencies as well as elected members from both City and County Councils.”
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Is disappointed to see how many councillors are not present in the Chamber. This is a very serious situation. There has been very little action taken since this crisis really kicked in. There is a shortfall of over 10,000 homes. Targets continually fail to be met. There are no greenfield development lands available in the city. There is only modest availablility of brownfield lands. Spoke of Docklands and Mahon – will take years to develop. Future housing need in the county is to be undertaken by private developers in nine Masterplan sites. Some have been in the planning process for more than 10 years with no progress. Some have fragmented land ownership which creates huge challenges for their development. As a long term strategy, masterplans may help. But they will not alleviate the current crisis. Private developers are facing huge constraints to the provision of housing. Constructing on some already-zoned land is not financially viable. Getting Irish Water to provide infrastructure is a problem. The old model of relying on developing levys to frontload infrastructure is no longer an option due to cost. Cork County Council will build some small scale housing developments but Council policy says that Council should be aimed towards housing management rather than housing construction. The voluntary housing agencies central unit has been disbanded. Was located in the Department of the Environment. The housing associations say they cannot fulfil their role because of the lack of coordination, …
Minister Kelly set up a Dublin Housing Supply Task Force in 2014. Now a Delivery Task Force has been estalbished to build on the recommendations of that. We don’t have the time to do a two-stage approach such as they have in Dublin. We need to free the present bottleneck as it is clear the present strategy is not working. We need a coordinating body that will have the ear of government.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Agrees with what Cllr O’Grady has said. He has put the issues very well. Cork Simon is dealing with 12 people sleeping rough every night in the last year. There has been a 35% increase in those sleeping rough. This is not just a social crisis. Lack of housing is going to become a strategic issue. The County Council’s Metropolitan area does not get adequate recognition in terms of the difficulty of housing supply. It has implications for Cork’s economy also.
Cllr Forde (FG): Supports this motion. The CE has said there was potential to deliver housing. It could not be delivered overnight but will happen. Has a particular problem in relation to NAMA and receivers and the land they control. Receivers were interacting with the Planning Policy Unit. We were told they would come back to us and report on whether there was an improvement in circumstances. Had particularly asked that a receiver inolved in the Ballincollig Carrigaline Municipal District would come to the Municipal District meeting. Is there any feedback? We had a national building agency which was disbanded in an attempt to do away with quangos. There would be potential for a regional or county strategic task force. We have to have some positive outcome in relation to the delivery of houses. The setting up of a task force can only be for the good.
Cllr McGrath (FF): As chair of the housing SPC, commends Cllr O’Grady for raising this issue. Shares his concerns in relation to the supply of housing. We had a presentation recently from the CIF in the Development Committee meeting. There was general agreement that this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Should the task force be a county or a national task force? Many of the problems are national problems and they require an approach from government. E.g. mortgage rules, finance, the cost of building. Developers are saying it is not viable for them to build outside of Dublin. Supports any initiative which helps to improve this position. But points out that many of the issues are outside the control of this Council.
Cllr Carroll (FF): It is high time a task force was put together to deal with this. There will be a crisis in our housing. Has concerns about NARPS and properties in housing estates being handed over for social housing. Not fair to those who bought houses in those estates at expensive prices. They must have consideration for those who invested their money as well.
Cllr Dawson (FG): Young couples are not qualifying for the social housing list, but they cannot borrow money. These are a lost group that we need to be looking at.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Does not feel that people in social housing detract from a location. Wants Cllr Carroll to retract what he said about people’s properties being devalued if social housing is brought into an estate. There is an issue like this in Mallow at present which is stopping people from getting social housing. Will not accept this attitude from elected reps.
CE: We are making progres with the targets that have been set. The shortage of supply from the private housing sector is creating difficulty. The issue is across the county, not just in Metropolitan Cork. Cork County Council has led the way here in terms of its analysis of the challenge. The Dublin Housing Supply Task Force did an analysis of the challenges facing Dublin. We did a similar analysis and it has been recognised nationally by the Department and NAMA as being as robust as any analysis done on the Dublin challenge. In fact, ours is probably more in-depth. The outcome of that is that in a recent government announcement, Cork has been referenced in the Dublin support package. No other urban centre has. Cork will be treated the same way as Dublin if there is a government package to come to tackle this problem. We have met DoELG, NAMA, NTA, TII, IW (workshops even with the agencies) over the last year to outline the challenges and to get all the ducks lined up. There must be careful alignment of programmes to ensure various tracts of land can be brought to the market. There is fragmented ownership of the masterplan sites and yes, this is a challenge. The public infrastructure is indeed a challenge. It is important to point out that the CIF is at the table with us on a quarterly basis. The CIF fully concurred with what we have analysed. They concur that the land we have zoned is the most suitable for zoning. They also agree that if these lands do not take off, it will be very difficult to find equally good alternatives. There is a major challenge. We need alignment of the infrastructure agencies. But the level of investment from those agencies is actually quite small. We estimate that €7- 8m of investment in different elements of public infastructure is needed in Cork to ensure that the lands we have are opened up in the next 2 – 3 years.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): Thanks the CE for his comments and wasn’t criticising the Council with the motion. The task force would have to be a national body. Lists the people one would need on it. Such a task force is something we have been discussing at SPC level. The CIF gave the impression that whilst lands are zoned in the county, they are not zoned in viable areas. The reality is we are 2 years behind Dublin if the government are now recognising that Cork also needs housing urgently. For example, the 20k new homes for construction announced by NAMA are all to be built in Dublin. Anything that helps us catch up would be great.
CE: At a social housing level, we have a joint oversight group between City and County which is attended now and again by the DoELG and various housing bodies. This helps all understand what is going on in relation to the social housing market. On receivers: we could come back in the new year and given an update on this. Discussions are ongoing with banks and liquidators and we will clarify in due course. We are making good progress.
(4 FF, 9 FG, 6 Ind, 4 SF present)
Suspension of standing orders
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): We are coming out of climate agreement talks in Paris where we have agreed to a less than 2% reduction in temperature increase worldwide. We spoke of floods a little while ago. Is concerned that whatever measures we agree as a country will not have a major impact on agricultural production. Hopes agriculture will drive on ahead. It is a major contributor to our economy. We need to acknowledge the part the government played in signing this. This is hugely important from now on and what happens on the ground.
Cllr Hayes (SF): There was a very serious debate on this over the weekend. It will have serious implications for the farming industry. Spoke of new social houses bieng built in Clonakilty. We were querying the heating aspect of the houses in the West Cork Municipal District meeting. They are to be heated by oil but because they have no side gate, the hose from the oil truck is to come in the front door and out the back door. What plans do the Council have to look into less dependence on fossil fuels for our own houses going forward?
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): The outcome of the Paris talks is better than what could have been but a lot less than what should have been. Agriculture and transport are major areas we have to tackle. Insulation, etc. is the best way of reducing domestic emissions. In a report published this morning, 82,200 people in Cork County alone suffering from fuel deprivation. Believes that much of this comes from lack of insulation.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Agrees that the outcome of the Paris talks are meaningful and will inevitably impact on agriculture. Supports what Cllr O’Laoghaire says about insulation.
Cllr Murphy (FG): Agrees with Cllr O’Keeffe
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): The real test for Ireland in the aftermath of the Paris talks will be the agreement that must now be debated with the rest of Europe on burden sharing. So often Ireland goes into these debates playing the poor mouth. But we have no business doing that any more. We are not special. Our economy is growing at the same rate and in some cases faster than other European countries. The measures necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must become part and parcel of every aspect of what we do from now on. With regard to agriculture, we had a presentation last year made to a meeting of the Development Committee on the opportunity for increasing dairy production. I pointed out at that meeting that cows poo and unless we want to deal with the increased impact of their methane emissions, we will have to take measures to manage their slurry. I haven’t heard one word to advance that since. We must build more efficiently, to better standards. Yet Minister Alan Kelly is proposing to amend the building regulations to lower apartment standards. And on transport, the Port of Cork was granted planning permission last year to build a major port facility in Ringaskiddy. This will relegate all port goods to road transport for ever more. There will never be a rail line to Ringaskiddy. Yet An Bord Pleanala granted that planning permission without any assesssment of the impact on climate from that proposal. So the measures to achieve greenhouse gas emissions must become part of everything that we do such that they are as natural as breathing.
Cllr O’Keeffe: Thanks all who have contributed. Thinks Cllr D’Alton has hit the nail on the head with regard to controlling emissions from agriculture.
18. Councillor Seamus McGrath:
“To seek a report outlining the number of Litter Wardens employed in each Division of Cork County Council. Given the ongoing and widespread problem of illegal dumping and littering, to request that additional Litter Wardens be appointed across Cork County. “
Report: Response to McGrath’s motion on litter wardens
Cllr McGrath (FF): This is a battle we are not winning and that requires more resources. Thanks for the report received from the executive. We have three full time wardens in the county. There is a shortage of resources being applied to this issue. If one of these wardens is on leave, there is no warden operating in that division. It is a very serious issue that we as an authority would leave such a serious issue unmonitored. We are not doing enough in relation to enforcement. We are not preventing the problem from happening. The report has thrown up some nomalies. Midleton, for example, has 3 part-time wardens. Other large towns have no part-time wardens and even no full-time warden at some given times. This is an urgent issue. Had hoped that the Civic Amenity Sites redeployment of staff would produce additional staff resources for the enforcement side of litter control, but no, they have been redeployed to the reactive side.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Seconds the motion and cannot support it strongly enough. There is tremendous need for additional litter wardens, particularly in South Cork. Litter wardens can help to raise awareness of the litter issue which has not just a negative visual and social impact but will also ultimately detract from commercial life in our towns. There are many downstream benefits from improved control of this problem.
Cllr Forde (FF): Supports the motion. People ask what is the property tax doing for me? If we can say the grass is being cut, the trees are being topped, the litter is being collected, footpaths are being installed and lighting is sufficient, then people know they are getting value for money. That is what local government is all about. Please, let the CE focus on that question when he is deciding where to put extra staff or resources.
CE: We will be advertising in the early New Year to ensure the situation in South Cork is remedied. We are trying to increase part-time wardens. There may be other opportunities for us to do more in this area. The public is aware of the scourge of litter. Those who litter are extremely difficult to catch.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Thanks. Wants to keep this on the agenda. Remedying the South Cork issue is one thing but there needs to be greater addressing of this issue across the county.
19. Councillor Deirdre Forde:
“That this Local Authority welcomes increased Government investment of €5 million in policing to tackle burglaries and related crime and calls on the Garda Commissioner to ensure that Cork is prioritised in her spend.”
Cllr Forde (FG): Please give us a chance to contact the Minister directly in relation to getting new gardai for Cork. Thinks this Minister for Justice will be one of the most pivotal for many years given that there is so much money now available for more garda recruits. Spoke of money being spent on garda cars. Very important for local communities that tbey would have confidence in the gardai. Wants us to write to the Commissioner and ask that these new recruits would be placed in Cork. Very reassuring for people to see gardai taken away from desk jobs and put out in the communities.
Cllr Collins (FG): Supports the motion. There are assets that are being used in stations where 1,000 gardai are doing work when they should be out in the open doing policing work. Very pleased to second the motion.
Cllr O’Donnabhain (FF): Welcomes the motion and the increased investment in policing. Although there has been recruitment, the bulk of the resources appear to be directed towards Dublin. €5m is a drop in the ocean in relation to what is required. Garda resources are very thin on the ground. What must be happening in the county areas when the impact of insufficient gardai in the city is so obvious? Millions were found to build a courthouse in the city centre which no elected official called for yet people on the ground in rural areas are terrified. Last Friday, a judge pointed out the breakdown in confidence in the criminal justice system. The strategy of the government in that investment must be examined.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Supports the motion. Togher/Gurranebraher has been very badly hit by reduced garda presence. Commends the gardai who have had succes in recent months but more investment is needed.
Cllr Harris (Ind): Welcomes the motion. Morale among the gardai is not great. Income is very low. We hear of some gardai sleeping in their cars when they go to training sessions. The focus of the money and the best way to spend it is important.
Cllr Forde (FG): Thanks Members. Confirms that letter will go to the Garda Commissioner.
20. Councillor Kevin O’Keeffe:
“That Cork County Council calls on the Government to ensure that Irish Water does not renege on the Service Level Agreement already in place for its workforce. This is to guarantee there will be no immediate redundancies of staff given the current deficiencies in the existing water and sewerage infrastructure.”
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): The workers who went to Irish Water were mostly from the county councils. Now their SLA is under threat. Wants the Chamber to support that Irish Water would support the workforce being kept in place.
Cllr G Murphy (FG): Doesn’t think the Council should be overconcerned about this issue. One of the flaws in Irish Water is the good job the City and County Managers did in negotating the SLA for their workforce. They wanted to make sure it would serve ex-Council workers into the future.
Cllr P O’Sullivan (FF): Disagrees with Cllr Murphy. If Irish Water workers are voting in favour of industrial action, their interests cannot have been catered for adequately. Irish Water proposed two months ago to go back on the SLAs. They don’t consult with the unions. They are steamrolling ahead with the privatisation of our water networks. All will be at the expense of local authority workers.
Cllr Harris (Ind): When Irish Water was set up, one of the pulls was that investors would come in and put money into the upgrading of the system. But investors don’t come in without a promise of money in return. This is a classic privatisation tactic.
We will write to the government and Irish Water in relation to the SLA.
21. Councillor Marcia D’Alton:
“That a planning application to An Bord Pleanala made under the Strategic Infrastructure Act can be made no more than twice for the same nature of project on the same site.”
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Text of motion under separate post.
Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Supports the motion. Cllr D’Alton said it really well. The Strategic Infrastructure Act is angled against communities.
Cllr Conway (ind): Strategic Development Zones should be included as well because they have the same effect, the same outcome and the same expense to the ordinary person. This is the second time they have had to go through this in Monard. Twice is enough and more than enough for democracy.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Suports the spirit of the motion. Understands the frustration of communities fighting the same battle over and over again. Needs to change to some extent to level the playing field. Large companies can go back for second and third bites at the planning process. Supports the motion in what it is endeavouring to do. Concerned that developers will try to change the “nature of the project” to come around it. There is an unlevel playing field at the moment, especially with pre-planning consultation. This unlevel playing field extends across the whole whole planning area.
Cllr G Murphy (FG): Has no problem with the motion but has a problem is with the process. It takes too long. There should be a definite end ot the process. We were talking about climate change and the need to move things along fast. That will involve infrastructural changes. If we haven’t the processes whereby we can make decisions quickly, then were are not going to succeed. So we can’t have it both ways if we regard climate change as hugely urgent.
Cllr Buckley (SF): Wants to be associated with the motion and supports.
Cllr Forde (FG): Current system is a David and Goliath. The little person has to take on the big. Motion deserves support. Has many problems with An Bord Pleanala – we are too late to make submissions to the review of the Board. Thinks the Board should be overhauled completely. If there is a particular project that someone wants to take on, e.g. with the delivery of a school in her area where there are problems with site, would love to have a process similar to the SIA. But is not allowed under current planning law.
Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): Too much power has been taken from the local authority. Companies have to be given a fair opportunity. Compares it to private house. How would the private landowner feel if he could not try again and again for planning permission for a private house?
Cllr Harris (Ind): Supports. Articulated well.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Thanks all for contributions and support. Particularly agrees with Cllr Forde about the need for a formal Council input to the review of An Bord Pleanala. Suggests that we might request permission to do this, even though the date for submission has passed. The consultation was in a pre-prepared form with specific questions. Understands and appreciates Cllrs Murphy and O’Keeffe’s concerns. Perhaps the restrictions on reapplying for planning several times should be hinged on the site. If planning is refused because of the unsuitability of a site, maybe this should be the reason developers should not be permitted repeated applications. But it is absolutely the case that applying for planning permission three times is simply too much for communities and very unfair.
We will write to the department.
22. Councillor Ian Doyle:
“In view of the extreme weather experienced in Cork County recently, that Cork County Council through the municipal districts would undertake a comprehensive roadside drain and dyke clean-up. The poor condition of these drain and dykes is due to lack of maintenance following on the staff embargo in place for a number of years. As a consequence of this there is a devastating impact on the condition of the regional and local road network especially in rural areas.”
Cllr Doyle (FF): We have all seen the effect of heavy rainfall with our dykes completely full of water. This has happened since the man left the shovel. There had always been Cork County Council guys with a shovel and they kept the dykes low and drains clear. Passed a road with a river of water running down it this morning. A single private owner was out with a shovel trying to avert the water. He succeeded. You cannot beat the shovel. Knows funds are limited in the Municipal Districts. Knows staff are put to the pin of their collar to do what they do. But we spoke of putting money towards verge cutting. Can we do the same as an urgent proposal to keep dykes and drains clear?
Mayor: This is probably a discussion we need at Municipal District level. If we have 20 roads on our programme for 2016, it is important that we put money into a proper drainage programme for these roads.
CE: We’ll have the money we’ll have. We will know that in early January/late February. It will then be up to each Municipal District to decide how that fundiing should be allocated. If we need to increase roadside drainage, that impacts on our work programme too. It is a debate that needs to be taken at each Municipal District.
23. Councillor Paul Hayes:
“That this Council explores the practical steps required to introduce water harvesting systems in its future social housing plans, in a bid to conserve treated water for drinking purposes, and reduce the cost to the state of treating mains water, much of which is used for cleaning and for flushing of toilets. Plans for private houses should also be encouraged to use water harvesting systems, the cost of which may be offset by a grant, similar to previous sustainable energy grants for installing solar panels on houses.”
Cllr Hayes (SF): There is an opportunity for Cork County Council to lead the way in this one. Last year, the government announced plans to include rainwater harvesting in building regulations. They then went down a different road in setting up Irish Water. We are on the cusp of a housebuilding scheme in Clonakilty. We can make these houses environmentally friendly, using cost efficient measures.
Cllr Doyle (FF): In Fermoy Municipal District, we had a display of rainwater harvesting. Very impressive. Much potential.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Just want to briefly support this motion. 55% of water we use in a domestic setting could be replaced by greywater. 85% of water used in commercial and industrial settings does not need to be fresh. This is a no-brainer. Tremendous motion.
CE: We will look at this for our future social housing stock. Also at issue is whether the department will be willing to fund.
Cllr Hayes: 45 houses are to be built in Clonakilty. Local experts are willing to speak to the Council and advise how rainwater harvesting could be incorporated in these houses.
No further motions were taken. All others are deferred until after Christmas.
24. Councillor Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire:
“That this Council requests that Transport Infrastructure Ireland come before the Council, to outline the Demand Management Study currently being undertaken by them on the N40, and to respond to reports recently following their meeting a committee of Cork City Council, that TII is considering tolling the road, and to discuss related matters.”
25. Councillor Kevin Murphy:
“That Cork County Council seeks an immediate meeting with the Minister Kelly, Minister for the Environment and Local Government and Minister Coffey, Minister for State, to address the serious anomaly that has arisen in regard to the limits on County Council’s House Purchase and City House Purchase Scheme.”
26. Councillor Noel Collins:
“That this Council call on the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform to consider an early change in the Inheritance Tax Laws.”
27. Councillor Aindrias Moynihan:
“That Cork County Council calls on the Minister for Social Protection to end the age discriminatory way the contributory pension levels are being calculated.”
[i] CORRESPONDENCE FROM OTHER BODIES
30. Office of Public Works:
Letter dated 13th November, 2015, regarding Display of Books of Draft Flood Maps.
Letter from OPW: Draft Flood Maps OPW
CE: 20th January – closing date. We will discuss these at the Development Meeting in January. They are on display in the foyer in County Hall.
[j] VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS
31. VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS (if any)
Cllr M Hegarty: Lily de la Coeur – world champion kickboxer
Cllr O’Laoghaire: Ireland’s cross country women’s team in European championships
Cllr S McCarthy (FG) – Midleton U15 football team
32. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Cllr Doyle (FF): Had asked that we would give a civic reception to the Navy for their work in the Mediterranean. Where is that at now?
Meetings administrator: We have written to the Navy.
Cllr Keohane (Ind): Nash’s Boreen is to be reopened. Judge ruled that it should be opened to vehicular traffic. We have a six week window to counteract that measure. If this boreen is opened again, there will be death, serious injury and dumping. These were all the reasons the boreen was closed.
Mayor: We will refer this to the Cobh Municipal District.
Happy Christmas to all!