Belfast Telegraph

Resolve Reform Committee issues immediately - Durkan

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today called for councils to resolve Reform Committee issues immediately.

Mr Durkan has appealed to councils and the leaders of political parties to abide by the letter and spirit of guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, and sort out the nomination process to their Statutory Transition Committees without further delay.

The 11 key committees are responsible for driving forward local government reform locally and the call comes after a minority of councils failed to follow membership guidance, instead nominating in a manner contrary to the spirit in which the associated Regulations were made.

Mr Durkan said: “We have a situation where a small number of councils have disregarded or irrationally or perversely interpreted the guidance which was provided to ensure that the make-up of these committees had fair and proportionate political representation.

“The committees have responsibility for driving convergence between merging councils and starting preparatory work for the new successor councils. They have important work to do and it disappoints me that some councils have chosen to waste their committees' valuable time by returning to tribal politics based on division and political expediency.

“I have now asked my officials to begin drafting amended regulations which will specify exactly how this nomination process should proceed in those offending areas. I have also asked them to investigate the steps necessary to allow me to direct councils by order or allow the Department to make modifications. I hope this will not be necessary but I am prepared to do it.

“This reform is about putting citizens, ratepayers and local businesses at the heart of local government. It is about improving services for them and I will not allow party political self-interest to get in the way.

“We all have much to do to ensure the successful reform of local government and a limited timescale remaining. These disputes divert us all from those very important tasks.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Minister has written to the following councils: Ballymoney, Belfast, Castlereagh, Lisburn and Strabane.

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