1. Confirmation of Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 12th September, 2016.
Proposed and seconded.
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 (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.
Cllr Hegarty (FG): Alf Smiddy’s father
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Donie Harris, Grange
3. Disposal of Property
East Cork Municipal District, 5th September, 2016:
(a). Disposal of land at Dungourney, Co. Cork.
Blarney/Macroom Municipal District, 30th September, 2016:
(b). Disposal of Cloughphilip, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.
REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF COMMITTEES
Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District
4. LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT, 2001 (BYE-LAWS) REGULATIONS 2006
Making of Cork County Council’s Cemeteries Bye- Laws, 2016
Mayor: This was discussed previously at full Council. Clarification was required. Now it has gone back to the Municipal Districts and has been agreed at Muncipal District level.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF) proposes. Says that regardless of the bye-laws, we should always be sensitive because families are burying their loved ones and we should be slow to change precedents. Know that some families like Celtic crosses. They are beautiful and part of our heritage. They should be considered. Also there is a restriction on the number of graves a family can buy when there is a bereavement. Thinks we should be flexible on this. Recently there was a funeral in Fermoy where a single family was looking for 6 graves – 4 members of the family had passed away within 5 months. Proposes adoption of the bye-laws but thinks we should always look on a case by case. This is a very sensitive issue in rural Ireland.
Cllr Carroll (FF): We discussed this in West Cork. We were told that with the consent of the local authority, the traditions of neighbours and family could be observed. The people of West Cork will need more clarification on this. Seconds the bye-laws.
5. “That the Ballincollig – Carrigaline Municipal District would ask Full Council to support its request for a detailed status update on the taking in charge of Pembroke Wood, Passage West, identification of the procedural steps to be taken from this point forward to achieve the taking in charge and timelines for same.”
CE: Over the last few Council meetings there have been issued referred from Municipal District meetings which should be dealt with at Municipal District level. This issue should be dealt with at Municipal District level. Understand it was already brought up at the Municipal District and a report was issued. We will arrange for a more detailed report to be sent to the next Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District meeting.
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): This is on the agenda because it was indeed brought up at the Municipal District meeting and the report that was issued in response was a one liner – “Pembroke Wood has not been taken in charge”. This estate received planning permission in 1997/98. The residents had been working with the developer until he went into receivership in 2011 or so. I understand there is an issue with the bond. The bondholder claims the bond has expired and the County Council is pursuing it through the legal department. It has been with the legal department since before Christmas. There are 400 houses in it, the residents of which pay their Local Property Tax every year.
I as their representative need to be able to give them an update and I have been unable to get that update. Hence I asked for the support of the Municipal District to bring it to Full Council. If there is a difficulty, that is fine, but at least let us know.
CE: There is no request for the taking in charge in. If there is a suggestion that it is taking long because of our legal department, wants to clarify that this is not the case. Understood that a second more detailed report was given to the Municipal District. Will get a more detailed report issued.
The Mayor says he understands that this is frustrating for all including members of previous Town Council. Will wait for the more detailed report to issue to the Municipal District.
6. Road and Transportation SPC
Road Drainage – draft policy approved by SPC on 12-09-16
Cllr Hurley (Ind): If we support this, we will commence a public awareness campaign in relation to the importance of good road drainage, the dangers of water on roads with respect to aquaplaning, etc. Thanks to the SPC members for their input in bringing this policy to Council.
Cllr T Collins (Ind): Supports. There are many roads that we travel that are not drained at all. Suggests that more funding is made available to do drainage on roads.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): The volume of water from landholdings is making trash of our roads. We spend several million per year repairing roads damaged by water coming from landholdings. This policy will not address the warning of landowners that any water on public roads is not acceptable. We have to ensure that where drainage works take place the relevant landowners have to get their act in order. Enforcement is the main issue here. We have to prosecute if landowners let water onto the public road.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Prevention is better than cure. You raise the road over the land and if you don’t the water will never leave it. It would save us millions. Most important things in the draft policy are communications and the best practice guidance. In some cases the local landowners or householders go out and clear the local drain. Are they right to do it?
Cllr Carroll (FF): A mini0digger could do many miles of road in a short time where drains are no longer being freed. We still haven’t seen minidiggers used for this purpose. They would solve a lot of problems.
Cllr Hayes (SF): Supports the policy as a member of the SPC. In recent times, many of the local area engineers are putting more of an emphasis on drainage work in association with resurfacing. This makes sense. Might cost more at the start but it is worth it in the long run. The policy also highlights the responsibility of landowners to keep water off the public road. Welcomes that.
Cllr D Collins (Ind): Supports the report. What is happening here is that the Council workers are not being replaced. These are the people who know where the drains are and who used to keep them cleared. We need more Council workers on the road to keep the drains cleared.
Cllr K Murphy (FG) repeats the importance of enforcement. We have to make sure water doesn’t go onto public road.
CE: Welcomes the policy document. It reflects our own policy. There is an emphasis on road drainage and how we deal with that. How adjoining landowners are impacted is a particular issue.
Cllr Hayes proposed.
CORRESPONDENCE FROM GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS
7. Department of Education and Skills
Letter dated 5th October, 2016, in response to Council’s motion of 27th June, 2016, in relation to ASD provision at secondary level in Cork
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): This was in response to a motion I raised and this is the second response from the Department. The two issues we asked the Department to address were to acknowledge the shortage of ASD special classes at secondary level and to outline proposals for removing the option for schools to pick and choose whether they want to set up a special ASD class or not in an area of identified need. The letter doesn’t deal with the first issue at all. It is repetitive in telling us about the additional ASD special classes provided this year. But there are still twice as many at primary level than at secondary level. It is coming a little closer to dealing with the second issue. It appears that the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill will require admission policies drafted by Boards of Management to not discriminate on a whole range of issues. But if a school is oversubscribed and a school has to pick between two students, it is far too easy for the school to choose the student who requires fewer special resources. The Bill also says that if a child with special educational needs cannot find a school place, the NCSE will find that place. But that place would of course be within mainstream education, not in a special class. Think we are not going to get any further with the Department and it is a waste of time writing back. The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill has gone through the first stage. Asks for the support of the Members to send a letter to the Special Committee on Education and Skills, letting them know that if the NCSE identifies a need for a special ASD class in an area, it will no longer be optional for schools to pick and choose whether they want to set up that special ASD class or not.
Cllr Desmond: Agrees with everything Cllr D’Alton says. This is an area of huge need. The response from the Department is saying more of the same. We’re so far short of where we need to be. There are children and young adults with no places to go. They do not have access to education which is their right. Access to an SNA is an issue and not enough. It has shifted responsibility to a local principle which is totally unfair. They decide who gets access and what access. This is a huge issue and it is escalating.
We will forward a letter to the Committee on Education and Skills.
8. Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Skills
Letter dated 7th October, 2016, in relation to Council’s motion of 12th September, 2016, in relation to potential business and employment opportunities for Cork following the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union
Notices of Motion
9. Cllr Des O’Grady
“To request a written report outlining the total cost paid by Cork County Council to external consultants for the year 2015. The figure should include all professional consultancy fees paid to non-Council employees, including amounts paid on projects funded by Government grants. The separate amount for each Council Directorate to be included.”
Separately, to outline the amounts spent on external legal services in 2015.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): €4.6m was spent last year on outside consultants, including legal fees. This highlights the amount of public money which is being transferred into public hands. Over the last few years, €30m transferred from Cork County Council into private hands. It is clear what is happening here. Road services cost €2.1m in consultancy fees. €866,000 was spent on external legal services even though the Council has its own legal department. Thinks the growing dependence on outside consultants should be reversed.
Recent example – when Minister Coveney announced LIHAF, he stated local authorities would now prepare submissions to the Department. There was no mention of outside consultants in the Ministerial announcement. But we didn’t liaise with the bodies the Minister mentioned, rather employing outside consultants to carry out market research. Are any agency workers employed by Cork County Council? We should be depending more on our own in-house departments to carry out this work.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Seconds. Concurs with what Cllr O’Grady said. Would like a better breakdown on division of fees. Have we ever done a breakdown to see how cost-efficient it is to use external consultants? My own experience from my own employment is that those in-house have huge knowledge. This public money is spent ad-hoc. We don’t have a proposer or seconder on how we spend public money on consultancy fees.
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Supports. The amount spent on road services is a lot of money. We should be looking at expertise in-house. Fees to external agencies for public relations – are we employing them this year?
Cllr K Murphy (FG): The report shows in detail where the money is going openly and transparently. Thinks it is trash to draw up a report and criticise it immediately. Thinks it is money well spent to have proposals from consultants who are experts in the field and thinks our expecting to do that work in-house is futile. We are drained for staff. So welcomes the report and if we are waiting for internal staff to do this work, we would be several years behind. Glad to see we are spending prudently on consultants.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): It is only 4.5% of the capital programme of €80m. €2.9m was recouped from grants. Shows that there is activity in the Council. If we weren’t doing anything, we wouldn’t need outside specialists. Get the people who have expertise in an area. Hopes there will be more consultants with more work carried out but wants them taken on only where necessary.
Cllr Harris (ind): This motion gives good service because it gives us an idea of what is going on. Hopes we are not using the same consultants all the time. Presumes most of the companies are based in Cork so we are helping local employment. This is a good motion and the most important thing is transparency and a lot of people are vying for the business and it is important to get value for money. Better to have in-house expertise but if it is not there at the moment, this is not money wasted.
Cllr K McCarthy (Ind): Thinks we have enough people in the building without venturing outside. Why does the Council spend taxpayers money on consultants and then hire people on JobBridge.
CE: We only recruit consultants where necessary. Cork County would grind to a standstill if we weren’t engaging consultants. If this figure were increasing year on year, it would reflect an increase in activity within the County. Would like to see that happen. We have an excellent in-house staff but there are situations that arise where we need different teams of consultants to work with that staff. Roads is 60% of the spend on consultants. But much of that is from NTA and TII for projects which we are progressing on their behalf. We couldn’t get an N28 or Dunkettle scheme ready to go without consultants. Legal spend is to bring in former Town Councils. This will reduce over time. But there is a significant cost associated with defending actions against this Council. On LIHAF, it is a competitive bid, a highly significant issue and I wanted to put our best foot forward in a short space of time. Wanted a highly professional proposal which built on the professional work we had done in-house here. Makes no apologies for that. The issue of cost efficiency has been referenced. All consultants go through a tendering system, some through EU tendering. Rarely do we use PR consultants for external advice. Our LEOs use them at times but a very small spend only. If €3.79m increases, it reflects increased investment.
Cllr O’Grady (SF): We are very much against the CE’s position. Is there a cap on the amount we can spend on external consultants in any area? Also are there funds due from the grants system from the Department? None of the money from government for housing (€972k) will be paid back to Council until work starts on site. Much of this money will go to outside consultants and the Council will have to pay up front. Won’t be recoupable for some time.
CE: The €972k is a cashflow issue. We are developing projects and we will recover our costs associated with housing capital projects once work commences on site. So this is just a cashflow issue. There is a certain percentage recoupable from the Department. On LAP €4.1m, there is no link between money spent on consultancy fees and the LAP income. There isn’t any cap on what we pay to consultants. We go to the market and a competitive tendering process. You pay for what you get.
10. Mayor Seamus McGrath
“To seek a report outlining the Council’s previous involvement, in whatever form, in the provision of public garden allotments across the County. Also, to request that further consideration is given towards utilising Council owned land as garden allotments, perhaps on an interim basis and particularly in the vicinity of large population bases”.
Cllr McGrath (FF): Allotments have worked very well in the past in the county. They involve use of local produce, reducing transport costs, etc. They have many positives associated with them. Welcomes the report. Hopes the Municipal District would try to identify land that is available for garden allotments in association with local groups. Even in an interim or medium term this is something we should explore. Overall welcomes the report.
Cllr Canty (FG): Fully supports. We had to jump through a lot of hoops to get where we are in Ballincollig. At the time, the owner of the land objected to Cork County Council using it if he wasn’t allowed build on it. Ballincollig has 100 allotments. It is railed off, has toilets, etc. But that was the Regional Park land and it is working very well. There are people working on their allotments from 7am in the morning. There is a charge but it is minimal and it is encouraging people to get out. They have formed their own committee in relation to the running of it.
Cllr Barry (FG): Congratulates on bringing the motion …
I had to leave for a few minutes.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF) supports.
Cllr R McCarthy (SF): Commends allotments in town and villages where they are. Some provide employment through TUS schemes, etc. Some take groups and schools, some do courses. In Bandon, the land that they are on is Council land, some of which we would hope to develop for social housing. So the future of the allotments is a little uncertain. Hopes that the land would be allocated so as to give them greater security.
Cllr Dawson (FG): When Mitchelstown wanted an allotment, we found it very difficult until Cork County Council came on board.
Cllr Hurley (Ind): There is a community garden in Dunmanway getting great support from Cork County Council. It is a win-win situation for the Council and the community. It provides employment. It provides produce for the farmers market. Participated in the West Cork Food Festival. Community gardens are another focus for this motion.
CE: Welcomes the motion. The Director of Services is also keen to move this on. There have been some very successful allotments. It is important that communities who take the allotment project on have the capacity to do so. We don’t want land that is required for something else to displace allotment groups. Need reasonable permanency for them.
Cllr J Murphy (Ind): Thinks a great motion. In Mitchelstown, we could see some Council land being used as a car park down the line which is right next to an old folks home. They would love to see this land used as an allotment. If it comes to full Council for approval, hopes Members will remember what they said today and will not let it go ahead.
Cllr McGrath: Thanks Cllr O’Flynn for the point in relation to new developments. Thinks relevant. Could retrofit into existing estates where members are having difficulties in managing a particular area of ground. We will work through the Municipal Districts and come back to this issue.
11. Cllr Noel Collins
“That this Council report on the need for public health warning signs to bathers and beachgoers to exercise caution on beaches, following the massive infestation of deadly jellyfish, which have reached our shores”.
Cllr N Collins (Ind) outlines the dangers of the jellyfish.
Cllr Cullinane (InD): Onsite, it is vital that we bring awareness as to how dangerous this is.
Cllr A O’Sullivan (FF): Supports and commends Cork County Council staff for picking up hundreds of these jellyfish on Youghal beach. We are very happy in Youghal with the County Council response.
Cllr C O’Sullivan (FF): Thinks Cork County Council could not have predicted this influx of jellyfish and commends them for the speed with which they have responded. But beach users generally need to be aware.
CE: We have reacted swiftly to the issue of these jellyfish. Signage has been erected but welcomes any opportunity to increase awareness further. Hopefully the influx of jellyfish won’t last much longer.
Cllr N Collins (Ind): Thanks all for the support. Would appreciate if signs were to up on the 5 beaches in East Cork.
12. Cllr Michael Murphy
“That this council writes to the minister to keep their promise as stated in programme for government document Page 48 – to protect and enhance the services available within our post office”.
Cllr Murphy (SF): A report commissioned by An Post in 2013 suggested that without government commitment to granting of services through the post office network, they wouldn’t stand a chance of survival. Some postmasters are maintaining services at below minimum wage income. Most can stay open for only a short while.
Cllr O’Shea (Ind): A number of reports have been commissioned by the government and An Post on how to improve the sustainability of the network going forward. They have missed deadline after deadline in reporting back. Unless the services are used, 400 post offices are really going to be in serious trouble. We know post offices that have closed in recent years have had a devastating impact on their towns and villages. Suggests that we write to Ministers responsible for this. Minister Naughten has set up a committee in relation to rural post offices. Thinks we should write to both Ministers responsible and ask for an update.
Cllr Jeffers (SF): Post offices are under pressure. Previous governments have let so many close. We have lost garda stations too. Everything must be urgently acted upon to save our post offices.
Cllr Coughlan (FF): Supports. Post office as an integral part of communities is to be strengthened. Current policy is non-existent. We are not seeing any policy. We need to send out a strong message that we want enhancement of the services post offices provide. It will be further centralization and movement towards banks if we don’t.
Cllr Doyle (FF): Supports. Through our Municipal Districts, we are always discussing and putting money back into rural Ireland and enhancing our towns and villages. We have a ready made business centre with our local post office. It behoves us all to help the services it offers.
Cllr Conway (Ind): Supports. Can’t highlight how important this really is. It was a big social aspect in rural areas. Wouldn’t blame government necessarily but the policy that is there doesn’t give confidence that the post offices would stay open. Non-viability was stated on the Week In Politics that this is what would close them. Supports suggestion that we would write to the Ministers.
Cllr D Collins (Ind): Post offices should be extending their services. Minister Ring said mobile post offices might be one way out of this. This is rural Ireland. A lot of towns have lost mobile banks. Social welfare was taken off post offices and put into the banks. We need to expand their services.
Cllr B Ryan (FF): Supports. Supports Cllr O’Shea’s suggestion. The government governs and we should insist that Ministers with the responsibility would come forward with a policy quickly. Would be terrible to leave communities without the services post office offer.
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): We have all been contacted about this issue. All our national services used to carry a sovereign seal. This has disappeared from post offices. Nobody noticed, almost signalling what is coming down the line. They are a national service. We need those sovereign seals back.
Cllr Hayes (SF): Post offices are a vital part of the social fabric. In Clonakilty 15 years ago there was a threat of post office closure. We formed a committee and ensured its survival. You do have to use the facility if it is in your community. Nationally, services do need to be driven through the post office. Social welfare going through banks need to be knocked on the head. Welcomes the reopening of Leap post office last year.
Cllr J Murphy (Ind): Supports and concurs. Local postmistress felt that the public representatives in Dublin didn’t care. She couldn’t sleep worrying about what is going to happen. She has full time staff employed. The knock-on effect of what might happen is detrimental.
Cllr PG Murphy (FF): An old chestnut. We have to creative about how we look at increasing the services of the post office. A suggestion made is that they could become tourist information offices in small towns and villages. The way the government has undermined them with regard to social welfare payments is unacceptable.
Cllr R McCarthy (SF): Post offices are a way of life for people in rural Ireland. People in Dublin don’t understand this where you have wifi or banks on your doorstep. In rural Ireland, they don’t have those services. This is a matter of principle. If the government is serious about reviving rural Ireland, this motion should be taken seriously.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): We don’t use post offices properly. In some cases we have to be realistic as well. Modern technology must be installed in them. We have to prove conclusively if a post office is needed in an area and the we have to use it. Get as many ideas as we possibly can to make them viable. We have to use it or we will lose it.
Cllr O’Flynn (FF): They are talking about post offices one every 20 miles at the moment. They were saying that about local health centres at one stage. Use them or we’ll lose them. At the same time, they need to be reviewed with a heart that wants to keep them open. It behoves the Minister and his department to ensure that facilities that can be used in the local post offices will be put in place.
Cllr Harris (Ind): When you try to expand services in post offices, it is objected to by the banking sector. So it is a political decision. Thinks post offices would thrive were it not for the banking sector.
Cllr Murphy (SF): Thanks all for their support. Has no problem with what Cllr O’Shea proposed.
13. Cllr Danielle Twomey
“That this council ask the Minister for health Simon Harris. To increase funding to the CUH in the new budget. In order to help alleviate the staffing shortage and to also give enough funding for the hospital to provide its own Mri equipment and facilities”.
Cllr Twomey (SF): Nurses and midwives are paying unfair taxes. We are losing our doctors and nurses to abroad. One nurse she spoke to was a single mother who is struggling to pay and says she may be forced to leave her country. Hard to visit this hospital and see the wonderful work it does but also to see the stress which they employees are under. The MRI at the CUH is owned by Alliance Medical and the hospital has an SLA in place. Constituent had seizures on a Friday, had to wait until the following Wednesday for an MRI. No staff available to conduct the scan. The CUH doesn’t take referrals for MRI scans unless private. Then you will be referred to a consultant. Young boy – bike accient – ER – needed MRI – nurses feared because out of hours – consultant answered phone by chance and agreed to carry out the scan – boy survived because he was treated adequately. A PR company gave her a copy of operating hours at MRI unit. CUH aims to provide high quality care, clinical excellence and safety. The hospital is totally relied on and more so with the closure of the Mercy ER department. The staff is amazing but is stretched to their limit. Staffing level needs to be addressed. Amends motion to increase pay and abolish crazy taxes.
Cllr Mullane (SF): A private company is running the MRI equipment in the CUH. The health service should never be down to the wealth that you have.
Cllr Twomey clarified her amendment to the motion: That the Minister would consider addressing the concerns that the staff have in relation to their pay conditions and their taxes.
The motion was passed.
CORRESPONDENCE FROM OTHER BODIES
14. Davis College Mallow
Letter dated 10th October, 2016 in response to Council’s letter of 5th October in relation to the current progress on the construction at Davis College, Mallow.
Cllr Mullane (SF): Was in discussions with the planning office here about Davis College. What is said here by the ETB is not correct. They don’t qualify at all. So can we confirm that ETB would be breaking planning conditions by going on site with prefabs?
CE: If the Cllr has a concern that the letter doesn’t represent the situation on the ground, there is process for anybody to issue their concern to our own planning department.
Cllr Mullane (SF): I have done that, I have been told that what the ETB is claiming is not ok and I have relayed that to Cork ETB.
Mayor: We will receive clarification.
15. Port of Cork
Letter dated 11th October, 2016, in response to Council’s letter of 27th September, 2016, in relation to plans for the Marino Point site.
Cllr Murphy (SF): The letter is brief. Who looks after the site at the moment? It is run down. Is it safe?
Cllr Cullinane (Ind): Met with the Port of Cork last week on this. They say several of the partners have to iron out some specific points but they do intend to move forward very shortly.
Mayor: This response doesn’t give us any new information! Will we revert to the Port and ask that they come back with new information when there is more to hand?
Cllr Murphy: Yes.
16. VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS
Cllr P O’Sullivan (FF): Munster Senior League Soccer Club.
Cllr D O’Brien (FF): Kildorrery karate club
Cllr Coughlan (FF)
Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Passage West karate club
Cllr D Collins (Ind): on Shamrocks match yesterday.
Cllr K Murphy (FG): Wants to be associated with that. Also own home team of Kinsale who won junior football champions.
Cllr PG Murphy (FF)
17. Any Other Business
Cllr Forde (FG): Could the CE help us out with N28? There was a recent accident on Carr’s Hill. A resident rang and said it caused a lot of hassle. We don’t have stats for accidents and around Bloomfield, Carr’s Hill, N28. We’re going to make a momentus decision in relation to the Port of Cork and these roads. Have looked for Demand Management Study to be published. Would also like to know the volume of traffic increase on the N40, N28 and at the Bloomfield. Can’t make an informed decision without this data. Will be asking the gardai if they can give us some stats. We never get stats for this. The Area Office wasn’t aware of that accident on that day. Asking the CE would he liaise with maybe the gardai or the agency and come up with those stats as soon as possible?
Cllr Couglan (FF): Bus Eireann is providing buses to transport people from the Cork Jazz festival to the Metropolitan area and to Midleton but not to Bandon. They have done this before. They provide a bus to Ballincollig, Blarney, Carrigaline, Midleton, etc. but not to Bandon. Asks that we write to Bus Eireann on this. Will be writing herself.
CE: Will convey members request to TII. We are agents on behalf of TII. Is sure that these matters have been raised through the public consultation process but will ask.
Cllr Forde (FG): Is asking for the Demand Management Study to be published for the last 18 months. Also asks that CE write to the Chief Garda Commissioner.
This concluded the meeting.