Belfast Telegraph

Council reform Bill introduced to Assembly

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today introduced the Local Government Bill into the Assembly.

The Bill provides the legislative basis for the local government reform programme.

Among the reforms included in the Bill are:-

- new governance arrangements for councils – for the first time, sharing council positions of responsibility across political parties and independents will be enshrined in law. The public will also now have more access to council meetings and documents.

- new ethical standards regime - there will be a mandatory code of conduct for councillors.

- new council-led community planning process – partnership with other public service providers to develop and implement a vision for the economic, social and environmental well-being of the district.

- general power of competence – gives councils the power to do anything that individuals generally can do that is not prohibited by other laws. The aim is to develop innovative approaches to improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area.

- performance improvement to deliver high quality, efficient services – including the requirement for councils to report annually on performance.

- establishing a partnership panel - made up of Executive Ministers and elected representatives from the councils to discuss matters of mutual interest.

- end dual mandate - by placing a bar on MLAs, MPs and MEPs from also being elected or being councillors.

Minister Durkan said: “Today is a key stage in our journey to improving local government. The legislation will ensure that what may have been aspirational before is now set in stone. Councils have to share positions of responsibility. Councillors will have a mandatory code of conduct.

“There is great opportunity here. The Bill will provide our 11 new councils with the powers to be stronger, more creative and more effective in delivering services to their citizens. They can now imaginatively produce initiatives to boost their local economies and create jobs, protect the environment and enhance the well-being of their citizens. I look forward to this Bill being debated in the Assembly at the beginning of October.”

Notes to editors:

1. The second stage debate of the Bill is scheduled for Tuesday 1 October.

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