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Councils to meet Brexit minister for London talks

By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland council leaders have secured talks with a Brexit minister in the ongoing absence of a Stormont Executive.

The NI Local Government Association (NILGA) is to meet Steve Baker at Westminster next month amid growing concerns over the lack of a local voice in the EU withdrawal negotiations.

The councils' umbrella body will also use the meeting to push for further powers to be given to local government - particularly if Stormont is mothballed.

"Baker is now a 'go to' person for all local government associations including NILGA and we will meet him separately from and with a NI councils' perspective," a statement said.

NILGA chief executive Derek McCallan said: "Without an Assembly we're in a vulnerable position. The increasing disconnect between what is going on in London and the delivery of services on the ground here must be halted and we cannot have a shift back to centralist policies and decision-making.

"Councils can be the antidote to this. We are calling for councils to be given real powers and real resources as part of solving this widening democratic deficit - before we are literally disempowered and made uncompetitive as an economic region."

NILGA added that it is currently the only regional, all-party, politically representative body in Northern Ireland.

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