Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

New-look Ulster

Radical blueprint for local councils shake-up will have massive knock-on effect

Major parts of Lisburn, west Belfast and Castlereagh are to be incorporated in a massive new city council area under new local government proposals published today.

Major parts of Lisburn, west Belfast and Castlereagh are to be incorporated in a massive new city council area under new local government proposals published today.

The radical blueprint for local government in the greater Belfast area will have a massive knock-on effect, with one new council area including the major part of Lisburn, Antrim and Carrickfergus.

And in the North West, Magilligan Strand, which is currently part of Coleraine Borough Council, will be subsumed in a new council taking in Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt, as well as Derry.

For the most part the Local Government Boundary Commissioners' proposals allow the new super-council boundaries to follow the existing perimeters of local authorities.

But the total number of local district wards will drop from the present 582 to 420, leaving the proposed number of wards for each district at 60, with the effective disappearance of some townlands.

Commissioner Dick MacKenzie said he hoped as many people and organisations as possible will respond to his recommendations and help shape the future of local government.

His report today followed more than five months of detailed work after the decision by Secretary of State Peter Hain to reduce the present 26 councils to seven.

In Belfast, the localities of Gilnahirk, Tullycarnet, Braniel, Castlereagh, Merok, Cregagh, Wynchurch, Glencregagh and Belvoir - all part of the present Castlereagh council area - will be subsumed in the new city area.

And a massive slice of the current Lisburn City Council area - Colin Glen, Poleglass, Lagmore, Twinbrook, Kilwee and Dunmurry - also shifts into the new Belfast structure.

Mr MacKenzie said the new Belfast local government district should reflect its setting within the surrounding hills, some major roads and a number of natural features.

While there is no proposed new name for the Belfast authority, Mr MacKenzie set out the proposed names for the six other super council areas:

• Inner East, incorporating the present council areas of Antrim, Carrickfergus, the major part of Lisburn City and Newtownabbey

• East, taking in the present council areas of Ards, North Down, Down and the major area left of Castlereagh

• South, incorporating the present areas of Armagh City and district, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry and Mourne

• North East, including Ballymena, Ballymoney, Larne and Moyle as they are presently constituted, and the larger part of Coleraine

• West, incorporating the present council areas of Cookstown, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Fermanagh and Omagh

• North West, which will include the present Derry City area, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane and a part of Coleraine.

An eight-week period for written submissions on the proposals begins today, which will be followed by a series of seven public hearings - one in each of the new proposed areas.

Each hearing is scheduled to last for up to two days, with two open sessions on each day.

"These proposals will impact on councils, elected representatives, major public sector providers, the voluntary and community sectors, the private sector as well as the general public," Mr MacKenzie added.

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