Hi, there! — Welcome to the tenth edition of my monthly newsletter to keep you up to date on my work for Cork City North East.
This month we have motions on children's play areas, salting of footpaths and questions about providing public parks. I’ve also included updates below on local pedestrian crossings, a proposal for an electric bicycle scheme and the taking in charge of estates in the ward.
Please make sure to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbours in the ward. If you have any feedback or questions, or if you just want to share an issue or idea, always feel welcome to drop me a line at email@example.com.
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Motions and notions
Every month, each councillor can submit up to four motions to Cork City Council and ask two formal questions of the Chief Executive. One of these questions is asked at the Local Area Committee and must be about local operational issues.
Before the deadline each month, I meet with my local group, the Cork City North Greens and we agree motions and questions for the month ahead. We call this our “motions and notions” meeting :-)
If you have ideas or suggestions for a motion, or have a question you want asked, just let me know!
Or join the Cork City North Greens ... my.greenparty.ie/join
“To ask the Chief Executive the steps taken by Cork City Council to purchase lands at Ennismore in Montenotte for use as a public park, as set out as being an objective in the city development plan, and any barriers preventing the purchase of the lands for this purpose?”
I will also have a formal question to the Local Area Committee. This can be submitted later in the month. If you have a suggestion, just let me know.
“That Cork City Council will improve the appearance of the area being used as a depot, open the area for public use if possible, plant native trees and add a bench at the green area, opposite Madden's Buildings on Watercourse Road.”
”That Cork City Council will identify arterial pedestrian routes outside of the city centre as part of the wayfinding project and that these will be salted in poor weather conditions to support commuting by foot.”
“That Cork City Council will report on options for the unused MUGA at Ashmount Court, including its suitability for the siting of a children's play area.”
“That Cork City Council will report on its policy and operations to identify and remove abandoned bicycles in the city.”
New pedestrian crossing at Cara Junior School
A public consultation is open on a new pedestrian crossing near Cara Junior School in Mayfield. The crossing will be the first in the city to be fully funded by new ward-level budgets that were introduced in 2021. This is something that I have been championing since being elected in 2019.
These budgets are decided at ward level by local councillors and are funded by the city’s variation in the Local Property Tax. This year, Cork City Council agreed to vary property tax by 9% above the base rate and to ring-fence this money to fund ward-level budgets and local sports grants.
The councillors in the North East ward took a particularly progressive and creative approach to ward budgets. The choice to fund a crossing at Cara Junior School was unanimous among local councillors. Other examples of where this money has gone include bins and benches in the Glen River Park, footpath resurfacing, a disability swing at Kempton Park, among lots of other projects still in the pipeline.
The crossing was by far the largest spend we made at €135,000. It has been slower to deliver than we imagined in 2021. That’s because of consultant reports and other design requirements. We hope now that it will be in place by the end of 2023.
Other new pedestrian crossings being planned this year are at New Inn school, Riverstown community centre to upgrade the zebra crossing there, and in Sallybrook. There's enormous demand for safe crossings throughout the ward. In addition, I will be insisting that the Safe Routes to Schools project at St Luke’s Cross is prioritised as well as other locations in the ward.
The public consultation on the proposed crossing at Cara Junior School is open now until Friday, 27 January. Members of the public can make observations online at consult.corkcity.ie.
Electric bicycle scheme
In December, I trialled a Bolt electric bike that is being used for the electric bicycle share schemes in Sligo and Kilkenny and took it for a tour of the St Luke’s area.
As an outcome of that, I’ve proposed that Cork City Council will pilot a shared electric bike scheme in an area of the city not already served by the TFI Bike Share scheme.
The kind of scheme being called for by councillors is a ‘dockless’ one. That’s where electric bikes are borrowed and left back at designated ‘virtual docking stations’ in a neighbourhood. People can then use an app to see what bikes are available and unlock them.
Different companies have started to roll these out in regional towns like Sligo, Castlebar and Kilkenny. One of the questions is how a new scheme would work alongside the existing TFI bike scheme in a city like Cork.
In Limerick, a pilot is being run in Castletroy, which is outside of the TFI bike scheme area. I’ve proposed that a similar pilot would be trialled in Cork in an urban town like Glanmire or the area called the Urban North in the new city development plan. That’s an area that takes in the Glen, Dillon’s Cross, Ballyvolane and Mayfield, which loosely follows the hinterland of the Glen River.
Officials are working on a policy to support schemes like this in 2023. That’s expected to take in both electric bikes and electric scooters. Electric scooters are expected to be legislated for shortly but until then there’s no legal framework for them. That’s one of the reasons I think we should press ahead with a pilot on electric bicycles-only for now.
The interest in trialling a scheme here on the northside is huge. Electric bicycles are a game-changer for anyone who tries them, in particular on the north side where the make easy going of the hills.
For people who get one, they do away with the car on everyday local journeys and commutes. A benefit of a shared bike scheme is that it opens up the opportunity to more people to try one out in real life before committing to buying one.
Lios Rua being taken in charge
Cork City Council is proposing that the Lios Rua estate on the Banduff Road be “taken in charge”. It follows agreement to take Ard Patrick in charge at the October meeting of Council.
This means that Cork City Council will take over responsibility for the public areas of the estate from the original developer. This includes public infrastructure like roads, footpaths, public lighting, open spaces, water mains, sewers and surface water drainage.
The proposal will require a resolution of Cork City Council and is normally good news for the residents affected. It’s hugely frustrating for residents to be caught up in that limbo of an estate that’s being lived in but not ready to be taken over by the city. In some cases, that can go on for years without resolution.
In one case in Glanmire, that’s in the process of being resolved, a part of the estate was taken in charge but another phase wasn’t. The developer then entered receivership. It meant the city could service one part of the estate but not the other. Examples of issues residents face in that circumstance include public lighting failing and not being repaired and road surfaces deteriorating without maintenance.
A list prepared for councillors in March had 14 estates in progress to be taken in charge as a first priority. At the October meeting of Cork City Council, two of these, Ard Patrick on the northside and Maryborough Ridge on the southside, were taken in charge. Lios Rua on the Banduff Road and Fionn Laoi in Ballincollig are now proposed and I would expect these to be agreed early in the new year.
After the first priority of 14 areas, there’s 40 more areas planned to progress ahead of 2024. In most of those cases, the developer is working with Cork City Council, but there’s 45 more where progress is stalled for various reasons.
In the case of some, it’s necessary for Cork City Council to carry out works with funds from developer bonds or central government funds. In other more serious cases, the bond has lapsed or there are legal barriers. In extreme cases, a majority of residents can hold a plebiscite to request that the estate is taken in charge but even then there can be outstanding issues preventing it from happening.
The consultation on the taking in charge of Lios Rua is open now until 6 January, 2023 at consult.corkcity.ie.
In the news…
Cork City Council plans for an eco-burial option in Kilcully are set to go to public consultation in the new year. Amy Nolan examines the proposals and speaks to local councillor, Oliver Moran, on the idea.
Echo, Friday, 30 December
Online map of unused land subject to new tax will ‘discourage speculation’, says Cork city councillor
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said: “This new tax will begin from February 2024 and what’s happening now is that local authorities across the country are preparing maps of land that will be included in it.”
Echo, Friday, 23 December
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said the people who operate the community garden to the rear of the property on Ballyhooly Road are already making plans to work with its new residents.
Irish Examiner, Tuesday, 13 December
Keep in touch
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Have a great month!
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