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Councils seeking greater powers in wake of EU vote

By Noel McAdam

Published 16/11/2016

Council leaders in Northern Ireland are backing calls for more powers to be handed to them in the aftermath of Brexit
Council leaders in Northern Ireland are backing calls for more powers to be handed to them in the aftermath of Brexit

Council leaders in Northern Ireland are backing calls for more powers to be handed to them in the aftermath of Brexit.

The NI Local Government Association (NILGA) has joined its counterparts in Great Britain to warn against any new constitutional settlement being decided only at Westminster.

NILGA president Arnold Hatch argued that the fall-out from EU withdrawal should be guided by the principle of more localised decision-making.

His warning came in a joint statement with Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association; Councillor Phil Bale, Leader of European Affairs for the Welsh Local Government Association; and Councillor David O'Neill, President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

The four regional leaders also called for constitutional talks with Prime Minister Theresa May's government on the framework underlying any new settlement.

"The EU referendum gave a clear signal that views on politics, growth and prospects differ widely across the UK," they said. "Recasting the position of local government and broadening the scope of decision-making across the UK is the only way to meet the different needs of our different communities.

"It also exposed a sense, among some, of feeling distanced from decision-making and disconnected from the political process, and has sparked a debate about the UK and our constitutional settlement."

The councils also want a guarantee in Chancellor Philip Hammond's forthcoming Autumn Statement that they will receive their full share of EU funding by 2020 "to prevent flagship infrastructure projects from stalling".

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