Belfast Telegraph

Legal bid over two nominees for new Northern Ireland supercouncil

By Rebecca Black

A ratepayer has launched legal action after a unionist and an independent councillor were selected to represent a mainly republican area in talks ahead of the new 'supercouncils'.

Twinbrook – currently part of Lisburn council – is set to fall under the remit of the new Belfast supercouncil when the number of local authorities is reduced.

To ensure a smooth transfer, councils are setting up transition committees to oversee the move.

Last night Belfast City Council voted to officially create the Belfast statutory transition committee.

Parts of the current Lisburn and Castlereagh councils will merge into the new Belfast City Council, while the remainder of Lisburn and Castlereagh will create a separate council.

Elections to these bodies are scheduled to take place next May.

But there was a delay in the committee's creation over controversy concerning Lisburn and Castlereagh's nominations to the Belfast transition committee.

The area of Lisburn going into Belfast is largely republican, but DUP councillor Margaret Tolerton and former SDLP councillor turned Independent John Drake were selected by Lisburn City Council to look after its interests.

Last night Sinn Fein councillor Arthur Carson told Belfast City Council that a Twinbrook resident has launched a judicial review against the Lisburn nominations.

"People from that area feel disappointed, let down by Lisburn City Council, the minister and Belfast City Council," he said.

"Equally, Alliance have a case to have one of the Castlereagh places."

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood backed Ms Carson's comments but queried whether there was enough time for a judicial review before the committee must complete it's work by next May.

Based on electoral strength, the area of Castlereagh going into Belfast should have one DUP representative and one Alliance. Instead, Castlereagh has nominated DUP councillor Denny Vitty and UUP councillor Chris McGimpsey.

By contrast, Belfast City Council's nominations roughly reflect parties electoral strengths, with seven from Sinn Fein, six from the DUP, three each from the SDLP and Alliance and one each from the UUP and PUP.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, who has responsibility for the process, wrote to all three advising them to nominate on the basis of proportionality.

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