Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Veteran councillors may get £35,000

Alex Attwood said the proposed payouts were 'designed to recognise the contribution of long-serving councillors'
Alex Attwood said the proposed payouts were 'designed to recognise the contribution of long-serving councillors'

Veteran councillors standing aside in the shake-up of local government in Northern Ireland could be in line for a £35,000 payout, the Environment Minister has said.

Long-standing elected representatives who will not seek re-election when councils are reduced from 26 to 11 will be eligible for the one-off severance payment, Alex Attwood explained.

The minister launched a public consultation exercise on the proposal.

The re-organisation of local government will result in 120 fewer council seats across Northern Ireland. The first elections based on the rationalised model will take place next year.

Mr Attwood said long serving councillors leaving political life, many of whom experienced threats during the Troubles, deserved recognition.

"Elections to the 11 new councils will take place next year," he said. "The approved boundaries of the new local government districts and their wards mean that there will be 120 fewer councillors than at present.

"This scheme is therefore designed to recognise the contribution of long-serving councillors who will not be standing for re-election, many of whom have served their communities during periods of political unrest. These councillors have made a significant contribution to the needs of people in their areas."

The minister added: "I believe that those who were councillors for long years, who worked hard, who did so at times under threat, often in challenging conditions and during the worst of disorder and violence, should be recognised as they leave council life. I think this is widely accepted. I hope so. I believe it is right."

Councillors will need to have served at least 12 years to be eligible for a payment. The scale of package will increase from that point up to a cap of £35,000.

The public consultation exercise will close at the end of May.

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