Extra funding required in the aftermath of Ophelia say councillors

Extra funding required in the aftermath of Ophelia say councillors
One of the large trees which blew down onto the award winning Centenary Garden at Milwood, Carrigaline during Storm Ophelia. Picture: Howard Crowdy

CORK County Councillors are demanding extra funding for the repairs needed in the wake of Hurricane Ophelia.

Councillors in the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District have rejected the draft budgetary plan for the area for 2018 – citing concerns over extra funding needed for storm damage and lack of resources at area offices.

The district’s budget was increased from 2017 by €500,000 to over €6m but councillors say this is not enough to service a highly populated area which includes the largest town in the county – Carrigaline - according to Census 2016 figures.

High waves coming ashore at Fountaintstown beach during Storm Ophelia. Picture: Howard Crowdy
High waves coming ashore at Fountaintstown beach during Storm Ophelia. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Road transport and safety was budgeted at almost €4.2m and recreational and amenity services were to receive €922,000.

Over €837,000 was set aside for environmental services, with €88,000 budgeted for water services - while agriculture, education, welfare and health services such as land drainage and coastal protection were costed at almost €46,000.

Former County Mayor and Fianna Fáil party leader Seamus McGrath said there was not adequate resources available within the scope of the budget.

“The area office is stretched beyond breaking point in terms of trying to provide services both in terms of personnel and funding to carry out work,” he said.

“I, for one, don’t we should be in a position to accept the budget that is presented to us because in doing that we are accepting the level of resources we have as being reasonable and adequate.

“We have to require more funding as we are in a very populated area with high demands across the services that are provided,” he added.

Councillor Deirdre Forde (FG) added that inadequate resources for personnel to respond to queries at area offices has been raised as an issue at budget meetings in the past.

Workmen cutting branches off one of the trees which blew down across the main Carrigaline to Crosshaven Road near Rabbit Island. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Workmen cutting branches off one of the trees which blew down across the main Carrigaline to Crosshaven Road near Rabbit Island. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“For me, the fundamental part of local government is the foundation of the area office, getting the streets cleaned, the grass cut and the footpaths and roads repaired. Normal things that people want every day. I’m not happy with the standard we are giving them at the moment,” she said.

Marcia D’Alton (IND) said she was disappointed that the budgets for certain services that make constituents lives “pleasant” had decreased.

Ballincollig-based Derry Canty (FG) told the meeting that area offices were “crumbling” due to a lack of staff.

“We don’t seem to have enough funding in relation to works that need to be done,” he said.

“Our area offices are crumbling at the moment for staff. If you go down to the area office and ask for this or that to be done, they say; ‘sorry, we don’t have the staff’.

"Area offices are being stifled by lack of staff and funding. We’re definitely not happy," he added.

Mary Rose Desmond (FF), chair of the municipal district, said the budget draft was “not proportionate” for the size of area.

“We are not getting our fair cut,” she said, Eoghan Jeffers (SF) said he was not happy about core spending in the budget and highlighted said extra funding for tree cutting would be needed in the aftermath of Storm Ophelia.

Due to statutory timescales, the budget will now go to full council for consideration.

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