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D-Day looms for councils reform

By Noel McAdam

The future shape of local government in Northern Ireland hangs in the balance today as Executive ministers face crunch decisions on plans to cut the current 26 councils to 11.

This afternoon’s session at Stormont Castle is expected to decide whether elections to the new 11 authorities can go ahead in May of next year, or the present 26 should be given a further lease of life until 2014 or 2015.

The Executive also faces difficult questions over finding funding for the already long-delayed project.

It is estimated it will involve around £118m in start-up costs, but it could save the public purse an estimated £428m over the next 25 years.

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