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Alex Attwood to outlaw double-jobbing within two years

By Noel McAdam

Assembly Members are to be prevented from sitting on local councils and vice versa, it has been announced.

Executive Minister Alex Attwood has unveiled plans to outlaw double-jobbing in two years.

At present, more than a third of the 108 MLAs double-up with seats in local government.

They will have to decide in the near future whether to stay at Stormont or opt to concentrate solely on town hall politics.

The Environment Minister also said that, in the meantime, their council allowances will be reduced by two-thirds.

Mr Attwood is understood to have received the formal go-ahead to end the practice of double-jobbing from the Executive.

“I hope that Assembly Members will agree and not resist,” he told the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) yesterday.

“I trust that, given this new regime, all parties will move decisively to end double-jobbing.

“A year ago, despite good support, a Bill to ban MLA and councillor double-jobbing in advance of the May 2011 council elections was voted down.

“It was a missed opportunity,” Mr Attwood said.

“It must be grasped now.”

The axing of the practice of dual mandates is expected to be included in a Local Government Reform Bill which will be introduced in the autumn.

The minister has the authority to issue a regulation reducing the council remuneration, and is expected to do so in the next few weeks coming into effect from the new financial year in April.

At present, the basic allowance for councillors is under £10,000, and a two-thirds cut would reduce that to just over £3,000.

“I consulted on this plan last autumn and no-one disagreed.

“I look to councils to help put this new regime in place.

“Councillor allowance will be reduced by two-thirds for those councillors who are MLAs, MPs, MEPs or Lords.

“The reduction will also be two-thirds for special responsibility positions, such as for chairs and vice-chairs,” he told the NILGA gathering.

Junior minister Martina Anderson also said the Executive is committed to having the new 11 councils — which will be forged from the present 26 — in place by 2015.

Belfast Telegraph


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