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Councils hit back at ‘absurd’ Edwin Poots claims

Council chiefs have hit back at ministerial claims they are endangering local government reform.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) said there was anger over “absurd” assertions from Executive Minister Edwin Poots that councils are unreasonably opposing potential efficiency savings.

Ahead of a crunch meeting with Mr Poots next week, NILGA president John Matthews said it was central rather than local government which was holding up the proposed shrinking of the current 26 councils to 11.

“Government has prevaricated for eight years with no decisions,” he told the closing day of NILGA’s annual conference in Newcastle yesterday.

“We have done our bit. We are planning to present a paper to the Minister next week setting out how the sector can make significant efficiencies. But are central government doing their bit?”

The gathering was told that on-going rows over proposed boundaries for the new authorities between Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh have yet to be resolved.

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