Alliance concern over number of ‘super councils’

Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has criticised suggestions that the number of Councils in Northern Ireland should be cut by two-thirds.

Mr Ford stated:

“The Review of Public Administration should be about simplifying bureaucracy, and improving democratic accountability.

“There is some sense in what the Minister is saying. There are clearly far too many structures and quangos for a region of 1.7m people.

“However, there must be major concerns at suggestions of moving to less than 10 district councils.

“This suggestion seems to be based on a notion that councils and health and social services trusts must have the same boundaries. But trusts need a minimum population of 250,000 and this is far too large for a local council in most of the region.

“There also needs to be a balance found between the numbers of councils and their powers. The greater the powers, then the bigger the councils need to be in order to achieve economics of scale. But there is also value in councils and councillors being the first point of contact for people in terms of their democratic representation.

“If the Government moves to create less than 10 councils, then communities will begin to claim that they are too big and remote, and the pressure will follow to create a series of ‘community councils’ or ‘neighbourhood councils’.

“The end result would be to recreate the inefficient system of local councils – counties, boroughs, urban and rural districts – that was abolished in 1973.”

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