Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Coalition taking the 'local' out of councils

Your article in relation to the 'carve-up' storm following the redrawing of boundaries for Belfast and Lisburn (News, May 9) made for interesting reading.

I, too, have concerns about the proposed Review of Public Administration (RPA) and the drawing-up of the boundaries for the supercouncils.

In your article, you make reference to the 'Executive agreeing to overturn the Boundary Commission recommendations'. In some areas, this would be referred to, rightly, as Gerrymandering.

But we have to look further at the RPA proposals. Most people seem to ignore them, thinking they will have no effect on them.

My concerns relate to the localness of local government. In my constituency, the Sinn Fein/DUP coalition has agreed Omagh Council will be forced into an alliance with Fermanagh and Strabane Council will become the hind leg of Londonderry. There is no natural affiliation between Tyrone's Omagh and Fermanagh, and there is no natural affiliation between Strabane and Londonderry.

One of the main planks of RPA was the necessity for 'co-terminosity' - here we could have a co-terminus council, Assembly and Westminster area. The Sinn Fein/DUP coalition have carved-up Northern Ireland in a way that takes the 'local' out of local government and they have created a situation which will create a form of local government that will create tensions within councils that will take several years to resolve.

ROSS HUSSEY (UUP)

MLA for West Tyrone

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