Hi, there! — Welcome to the sixth issue of my monthly newsletter to keep you up to date on my work for Cork City North East.
I hope you are enjoying these newsletters and find them useful. If you have any feedback, questions or want to raise an issue, please feel welcome to drop me a line any time at email@example.com.
All the best!
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Motions and notions
Cork City Council will begin meeting again this month after a break for August. There were still local meetings that took place dealing with specific items like approving individual housing developments.
Every month, each councillor can submit up to four motions to Cork City Council and ask two formal questions to 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 status of hiring a Biodiversity Officer by Cork City Council, the scope of the role, and if they will work with residents and residents groups on biodiversity issues affecting private, community and public areas?"
I also intend to ask about the potential for Cork City Council to purchase Ennismore in Montenotte for use as a park at the next meeting of the Local Area Committee. That's an evolving issue so and the meeting is later in the month, so I will wait until more is known before writing this question.
"That Cork City Council will pilot efforts to improve the visibility and presence of litter bins using bright colours."
"That Cork City Council will provide suitable trees to residents and businesses for free or at cost to plant on their own property (or in a pot for residents without a garden)."
"That Cork City Council will prepare a report on the implementation of the Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce in the city, including the role of the night-time economy in the city, and the status of a Night-Time Economy Advisor (or "Night Mayor") to promote night-time culture in the city."
"That Cork City Council will provide a soft indoor play area for children in the city centre, similar to one at Mahon Point Shopping Centre."
Home energy upgrades
Cork City Council has written letters to a further 311 tenants as part of its Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme. Eighty of these will be in the North East ward.
These homes will be installed with external wall insulation, double glazed windows and heat pumps to bring them up to a B2 energy rating. That means homes that are not just more energy efficient but more comfortable to live in too.
From a government perspective, the reason is to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in line with Ireland's Climate Action Plan. For tenants, it means an end to damp and lower energy bills.
The scale of the work in retrofitting homes is phenomenal. Over 6,000 city council houses are below a B2 standard and a third are below the C3 standard. The 311 tenants being contacted this week will see the works on their homes completed between April and November next year.
Work has already begun on retrofitting over 110 council houses at the start of Summer and the city has a target of retrofitting 246 houses this year. That's a scale never been seen before – but, even as great as it is, it needs to be even greater again and accelerated with multi-year national government funding.
A very clear message from senior officials here is that they want to go as fast as they can. They see the opportunity for climate action and to improve housing standards generally. The local government sector can be the basis to provide certainty for retrofitting investment. That can provide jobs for school-finishers and reduce the cost of energy for tenants.
For households owning their own homes and in receipt of Fuel Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance, Working Family Payment, One-Parent Family Payment, Domiciliary Care Allowance or Carers Allowance, the cost is fully covered and fully managed.
For other home owners, this is 50% grant covered. Individual one-off grants for attic insulation, wall insulation, heating controls, heat pumps, solar heating and electric solar generation are up to 80% grant funded.
Murphy's Rock development
After meeting with councillors in August, Cork City Council has recommended against An Bord Pleanála giving permission to the Cork County GAA Board to develop lands at Kilbarry near Murphy's Rock.
Problems identified with the development include "the lack of usable public open space, non-compliance with key principles set out in the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and the over-provision of car parking".
The report also said that the Cork County GAA Board "has not demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Planning Authority, that the proposed development will not impact negatively upon the environment." In this respect, the report specifically cited "at risk species including the Marsh Fritillary, an Annex II species, and rare fungi".
In my submission on the proposal, I had requested an oral hearing into the development, given the number of environmental questions that were hanging over it. This call was supported by councillors across parties, who also expressed significant concerns about the development.
Among the issues highlighted by councillors included the "proximity of development to Murphy’s Rock, which is a iconic amenity enjoyed by residents for generations" and "potential flood risk in Blackpool from development upstream".
There's great relief among local residents groups that city officials have supported their concerns with this particular development.
Murphy's Rock is an unique amenity on the northside of the city. I worked with residents this year to make sure it received the recognition it deserved finally in the new city development plan. These lands were already the site of unauthorised dumping in the late 1990s. We're in a changed world now and greater care will need to be taken towards protecting and enhancing Murphy's Rock.
I now hope that An Bord Pleanála will respect the recommendation. If the GAA want to proceed with a development here, they will need to come back with more scaled back plans that take account of the issues raised.
Clean Air Together
Cork City Council, the Environmental Protection Agency and An Taisce are looking for 1,000 households to take part in a citizen science project to measure air quality in the city.
The project is called Clean Air Together and follows a similar project in Dublin City Council.
Households are being asked to host a small air quality monitor outside their home. It will record levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in their local area. That will give a better understanding of air pollution in the city and the data will be used to improve air quality in the future.
Over 650 households have already registered but they are looking specifically for more households on the north side of the city.
If you're selected you will be posted a measuring tube to install outside your home during the month of October. The tubes will measure NO2 levels in the air before being posted back to a laboratory for analysis. All the results will be displayed on a map on their website.
If you are willing to volunteer to help the project, please register your interest. They're particularly interested in measuring areas that have a lot of traffic. They also want as many people as possible from all walks of life to take part.
The project is open to community organisations and businesses too. You don’t have to have any scientific knowledge to take part – but you will be making a difference.
In the news...
Council urged to buy Cork Dominican retreat centre and use it as a public park
The sale of a Dominican retreat centre on the northside of Cork city has raised calls for the city council to buy the property in order to provide a much-needed park for the area.
Planners call foul on Cork GAA plan to build 319 houses to clear Páirc debts
Cork City Council has told An Bord Pleanála that the Kilbarry development plan should be refused.
New approach to tackle dog fouling sought as city council issues just one fine in six months
Figures obtained by The Echo, show that, as of the end of June, the local authority has issued one fine to a person who failed to pick up after a dog.
Keep in touch
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Have a great month!