County Hall spends more than €30,000 on legal advice on boundary changes

County Hall spends more than €30,000 on legal advice on boundary changes
County Hall exterior.

MORE than €33,000 was spent by Cork County Council in seeking legal advice from barristers in relation to its legal position regarding the city boundary extension.

Figures released to the Evening Echo under the Freedom of Information Act show that senior counsel barristers’ fees amounted to €16,605 for “consultation, written opinion and further advice”.

A portion of this, €3,500, was for fees related to supplementary opinion, a letter and a conference call.

Junior counsel barristers were paid €10,000 for consultation with senior counsel, opinion, supplementary written advice, and “sundry telephone and email advice”.

€3,600 was also paid for services related to correspondence, consultations and the drafting of documentation.

A spokesperson from the Council said: “As Cork County Council has its own in-house law department no funds were spent on the engagement of firm of solicitors”. 

In total, the Council paid €33,333 in fees for legal advice related to the matter.

At a statutory County Council meeting in December, councillors discussed legal advice on the Council’s position in a private session which the media was barred from.

A report by the boundary Implementation Oversight Group was approved by Cabinet this week with Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower, Rochestown, Frankfield and Douglas now ready to be subsumed into the city — bringing the urban and added metropolitan population up to 210,000 from 125,000. Cork County Council will not lose the large rates bases of Little Island and Carrigtwohill.

No further debate on tweaks to the extension will take place before a Government Bill is due to be published at the end of June.

The legislation will allow for a review in 12 to 15 years.

The county authority resolution had mooted an alternative plan for the boundary which would have seen land in Grange, Frankfield, Ballyvolane and Douglas ceded to the city but not Ballincollig, Blarney and Tower — which had been included in the original Mackinnon report on the extension.

Meanwhile, Cork city and county councils have now been directed to hammer out a compensation deal to address the loss of earnings from the change in boundaries.

If the councils cannot come to an agreement, which is expected to cost the city council millions of euro each year, the minister for local government will intervene to dictate the amount that must be paid out.

The boundary extension will have a significant knock-on impact on Cork County Council which will lose out on revenue from rates collected from areas that will be moved inside the city boundary.

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