At the moment Waterford City, the oldest city council in Ireland, is run by the Waterford City Council and in short has the power to raise its own taxes through commercial rates. It is through these rates that capital investments can be made to develop the city. Through the new proposals, by government, to merge the city and county, are not conducive to the proper development of Waterford as a gateway City to the southeast.
You need to understand that a City is a City, and its focus and expertise are different. We’d save a lot more money if Waterford City was actually allowed to manage all of its own environs. What is being proposed here dilutes the focus of the city. Shared services are a great idea, but only where it makes sense.
The terms of reference for the Local Government Committee clearly state that the capacity of Waterford City needs to be maximised, that it has to ‘act as a strong and dynamic focus and generator of growth for the wider hinterland under the National Spatial Strategy, and that of other urban and rural areas to contribute in that regard in the context of balanced development.’
The idea that the only way to save the €5 or €9 million is by merging the City into the county of Waterford is presented as the only available solution. This is false reasoning. T The same savings can be achieved while keeping the valuable City status. And, make no mistake, it is valuable.
In a UN report, “UN System Task Team on the Post 2015 UN Development” the report states that “Cities are important economic forces not just for themselves, but to the entire nation, and central players on the world stage. When they are well-articulated with the national and provincial governments and their own development agendas are linked to regional and national development plans, when investments from central governments are aligned with local investments, cities can yield critically important results for the nation as a whole”.
It is important that Waterford keeps its city status for the following reasons.
- Investments in a major urban area (city) such as infrastructure e.g. education, roads, rail, port etc attracts inward investment and through growth can also lead to outward investment with profits being repatriated and reinvested.
- A city provides jobs not just in manufacturing but also a wider scope as in agriculture and services which are imported from the hinterlands surrounding the city.
- An urban area would have different needs than a suburban area leading to different policies and legislation.
Another report from the European Union, “Cities of Tomorrow- Challenges, Visions, Ways Forward” states that, “Cities play a crucial role as engines of the economy, as places of connectivity, creativity and innovation, and as centres of services for their surrounding areas. Due to their density, cities offer a huge potential for energy savings and a move towards a carbon-neutral economy. Cities are, therefore, essential for the successful implementation of Europe 2020”.
Not only is Waterford a city but is also a regional capitol and if there are no investments in the city then the whole region could suffer
According to the Waterford City Councils Draft Development Plan 2013-2019.
“The overarching goal is for Waterford City to fulfil its role as a Gateway City and, as the economic driver of the South East Region, to facilitate the provision of key investment priorities whilst ensuring the City develops in a balanced, sustainable, transport friendly and attractive way with good quality of life and opportunities for all its citizens. The image and attractiveness of the City and the quality of life it offers are fundamental and shall be protected and enhanced through policies and objectives of the Development Plan”.
Waterford City needs to stay a city.