Having submitted our initial written proposal to The Limerick Local Government Committee, we asked for an opportunity to present an oral submission as well as we wanted the opportunity to validate the practicalities of implementing what was best for the city and to solicit ongoing feedback from our members as well as the committee itself. One of the things playing on the minds of the Chamber board was the fact there was no demonstrable model already in place in Ireland that we were aware of showing how a combined city and county local authority worked effectively. We were also anxious to ensure that the 800+ tradition of Limerick City with its political and support structures were not compromised in any future model. We were also anxious to ensure that the euro 10M savings projected by Chambers Ireland in eliminating duplicate services between Limerick City and County was delivered, we were equally happy for this to be achieved through the collaborative model. What also changed for us was that the Croke Park agreement now also legislates for public service organisations to deliver savings through collaboration so we should allow this framework to achieve these savings.
So that cleared the way for us to focus on what would give the best return for Limerick and the region and what could be implemented no later that the 1st january 2011. This all came back to having a city of scale, with a population of 100,000 and that this could be achieved through extending the boundary of the city to include all the suburban areas of the city. based on feedback from the local government committee at the oral hearing and further feedback from our members, we reviewed the situation with our colleagues in IBEC and the American Chamber of Commerce. Taking all factors into account and in particular focusing on successful models for successful cities, all 3 business organisations are in full agreement that the focus of the recommendation to the local government committee should be for an extension to the city boundary combined with designating the inner city as a strategic development zone to encourage investment and development. This we now believe will deliver the best return for Limerick City, Limerick County and the region and also paves the way for more far-reaching regional structures in the medium to long-term which could delegate more and more authority to a regional executive. But that is for another day’s discussion.
We have received extremely positive feedback on continuing to fine-tune our position leading to the joint recommendation and announcement together with Dr. Maria Hinfelaar, President of IBEC Mid-West and also President of LIT, and Bill Doherty, Chairman of the Mid-West Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Cook Ireland. I am very happy in my mind that this is by far the best proposal for our city and region and if adopted by government will leave a legacy for future generations that we can be proud of.