THE Limerick Leader can reveal that Local Government Minister Phil Hogan is to propose the amalgamation of the City and County Councils to Cabinet.
But controversial plans to extend the city boundary into the Clare estates of Shannon Banks and Westbury look set to be scrapped, senior Fine Gael sources have disclosed.
Minister Hogan is to recommend a new local authority which will serve a population of 187,000 people, while it is understood the number of councillors (currently 43 between both authorities) could be cut by almost a third.
Minister Hogan’s recommendations fall broadly in line with those of the Local Government Committee chaired by Denis Brosnan, which concluded its work last summer. The report was met with fierce resistance at City Hall.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD has been speaking with members of the three local authorities, as well as other interested parties, and is ready to act on the proposals, which Mr Brosnan previously said could bring annual savings of €20m.
It had been expected that the plans would be discussed at the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, but with Finance Minister Michael Noonan still in the USA it was decided to defer the proposals until next week.
A single authority cannot be set up until 2014, when the current council expires. In the meantime, an ‘Implementation Committee’ will meet to begin the process of merging services.