Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein mayor for supercouncil

The first mayor of Belfast's new-look supercouncil will be Sinn Fein's Arder Carson.

Mr Carson, a former butcher, will take office next month when the expanded council takes the reins of power.

Parts of Lisburn, North Down and Castlereagh are being absorbed into the new council area as part of the reform of local government.

The 26 councils in Northern Ireland are being re-organised into 11 beefed-up structures.

The new councils, which have sat in shadow form for a year, will also take on added responsibilities, such as planning powers.

Mr Carson was nominated by his party at the last shadow meeting in Belfast City Hall tonight. The new deputy lord mayor will be 23-year-old DUP councillor Guy Spence.

While the old Belfast City Council had 51 councillors the new body has 60.

Mr Carson will take over from outgoing mayor, the SDLP's Nichola Mallon, at the first full meeting of the new council on April 1.

Mr Carson noted the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of Somme in 1916 both fell in his year.

He said he wanted to put communities at the heart of his term.

"I am very honoured to take the role on and I am privileged the party chose to nominate me," he said.

"I look forward to having a very busy and productive year where I can point people to a positive future and encourage them to look back with pride at our past."

Mr Spence, who has been a councillor for four years, said he wanted to re-engage young people in politics.

"I think hopefully throughout this year in office I can engage with both young and old and bring a young face to office, a fresh face to office and hopefully put into action some of my ideas and my visions for this city - so it's with great pleasure that I accept this nomination," he said.

Earlier, the council rejected a proposal from the Progressive Unionist Party to use the Sainte Lague system of allocating positions of responsibility rather than d'Hondt. The PUP had argued the change would have ensured more posts for the smaller parties on the council.

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