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Give 'super councils' more power, says Lord Mayor Carson

By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland's new 'super councils' should seek even more powers from Stormont in the future, the new Lord Mayor of Belfast has suggested.

But in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Arder Carson also admitted the 11 new councils will have to show they can use their new functions - including planning - properly.

The Sinn Fein first citizen said: "People will be looking to us to show that we can deliver but there will be a couple of years when the new functions and so on are bedding in.

"I hope that will be successful so that we can approach the Assembly seeking additional powers in the future. It will take a few years before that will happen. But by then we will have proven we can do it."

But Mr Carson, who was also a councillor in the former Lisburn Borough Council for six years, declined to specify what extra powers he wants to see handed to town halls.

"The actual powers we would be seeking at that point in time would not be for me to say. But the more powers delivered by local councils, who have a stronger connection with their local communities, the better," he argued.

Mr Carson, the fifth Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast, said he and his party were frozen out of the top positions on the former Lisburn council.

And he said he has not finally decided whether he will attend events related to next year's centenary of the Somme.

"The main commemoration of the Somme will be in July of next year, so I will be out of office by then," he said.

The 54-year-old council chief, who grew up in Andersonstown, said he intends to reach out to the Protestant community in the new, bigger Belfast council area.

"I will be reaching out to the Protestant community and hope they will accept that in the spirit in which it is offered," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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