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Alex Attwood speaks out on council reforms

By Noel McAdam

Environment minister Alex Attwood is on a collision course with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness over the future of local government.

The Executive yesterday reaffirmed that the current 26 will be shrunk to 11 new authorities, but Minister Attwood insisted 15 could secure greater savings — up to an extra £150m — and makes more sense overall.

The SDLP minister told the Stormont committee which monitors him that some on the Executive think it is a “matter of command” rather than “debate and proper conclusions”.

But he said he had told the First Minister and deputy First Minister that the way the issue had been handled as a whole was “unfortunate”.

Mr Attwood said: “Democracy can lead to bad decisions.”

However, Mr Robinson later insisted in a tweet: “There is certainty already about the number of Councils under RPA. The Executive agreed 11 and it will be implemented.”

But Mr Attwood argued that shifting to 15 rather than 11 would prove “less disruptive”.

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