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24th September 2020 | Press Releases

Council update: Green Councillors hit out at Local Property Tax cuts and promote active travel for Bike Week

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The Green Party in Cork has welcomed funding for deep retrofit of public housing and buildings in the city and county. Up to 200 local authority and housing association homes in Cork are to receive funding for deep retrofits of energy-saving technologies up to €7 million in value. These will also include buildings such as the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne on Cork’s north side and Carrigaline Community School. The projects will receive funding for the installation of solar panels and energy-saving heat humps for home heating, as well as the installation of roof and wall insulation and replacing windows and doors.

Welcoming the news, Green Party Councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran, said the projects will improve the lives of thousands of social housing tenants:

“Often we forget that climate action is action on social justice too. Warmer homes are better homes to live in and cheaper to heat. One of the most frequent issues raised by tenants are poor conditions because of cold, drafts and damp. Local authorities should lead the way in both in climate action and improving living conditions for all. These projects show that the two go hand in hand. Projects of this scale affect the lives of thousands of people. Children are better able to concentrate on homework because they are warmer. Homes are happier places to be in. That’s can transform people’s lives.”

City and County Councils all around Ireland have been promoting National Bike Week, with events and calls for greater investment in cycling infrastructure. On Wednesday, the Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, joined Cllr Una Power, Mayor of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and Cllr David Healy, Mayor of Fingal County Council, who are calling for safer cycling routes around Ireland and a cycle link between North and South Dublin.

Cllr Healy stressed the importance of active travel routes during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond:

“With the pandemic we are seeing much higher numbers of people walking in our communities. There has also been a resurgence of cycling during the last six months. With public transport capacity massively reduced, it is crucial that we develop quality routes for walking and cycling routes to allow movement within our communities … The Sutton to Sandycove (S2s) route is a long-standing objective of grass roots campaigners and elected representatives of all parties. Along with other active travel infrastructure, it has never been more urgent.”

“We’ve done a lot of work down in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown so far, particularly on our coastal route between Blackrock and the Forty Foot”, Cllr Una Power added. “What I’m saying to people is: get out there on your bike, try to commute into work, college to school. It’s amazing, it’s free, and it will get you there in no time at all. We’ll continue to work to bring about safe walking and cycle across the city.”

Green Councillors in Dublin City Council faced a setback this week as a proposal supported by the Green Party to increase Local Property Tax (LPT) to 5 per cent above the basic rate was defeated. Council chief executive Owen Keegan and its head of finance, Kathy Quinn, had appealed to councillors to increase the tax by 30 per cent on this year’s rate to help offset the “devastating” financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Michael Pidgeon hit out at the decision on Twitter, stating that cuts to Property Tax disproportionately benefit wealthier homeowners: “34-21, Dublin City Council votes to cut property tax again. To disproportionately benefit wealthy homeowners, the tax will mean €12m less for the council’s funds. We’re already facing a €39m deficit thanks to COVID – we didn’t need this on top of it.”

Cllr Claire Byrne echoed the disappointment at the vote: “The annual #LPT show where the Green Party propose raising funds for housing/ litter/community projects/events/playgrounds/footpaths/ parks / green infrastructure etc. You know the basic services Cllrs are elected to deliver. Of course, most other parties voted to reduce it. Sigh.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, announced this week that the Lord Mayor’s Awards, which usually take place annually, will now be awarded monthly to honour and thank those who have worked tirelessly on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each month members of the public will be invited to nominate either a frontline person or organisation that they think has gone above and beyond during Covid-19.

At the end of each month the Lord Mayor, Hazel Chu, will decide the winner and present them with their prize, a piece of specially commissioned sculpture and a gift voucher worth €1,000. There will be a different category each month, beginning in October with ‘Nursing Homes’. Other categories featured in the coming months will be Transport, Hospital Services Staff. Retail, Emergency Services, Hospital Medical Staff and Community.