Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Funds cut ahead of council shake-up

Official money for council shake-up will be axed, Edwin Poots has said

Some funding for the reduction of the number of councils in Northern Ireland will be axed, the Environment Minister has said.

Official money for transition committees to prepare for the shake-up is to be suspended. Edwin Poots plans to present a paper to ministerial colleagues on local government reform.

In June, the Executive failed to reach agreement on reducing the number from 26 to 11. The minister also planned to transfer a range of central government functions to local government, including responsibility for planning and regeneration.

Mr Poots said: "In recent months I have been working with the local government sector. From these meetings it is now apparent that no significant role is envisaged for transition committees in their collaboration agenda. In light of the current budgetary pressures, it is hard to justify continued funding of transition committees.

"I have therefore decided to suspend the funding from this Sunday. Some of these committees may wish to continue to meet but this will have to be on a voluntary basis."

Money will be available for change managers working within the committees until March.

The committees were formed in January 2009 and £1.6 million has been spent on them.

The minister added: "In this difficult economic climate, we must gain efficiencies and savings by driving out unnecessary costs whilst providing the best council services possible. These savings can only be achieved if councils work together."

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