Alliance Party MLA, Stephen Farry, has expressed concern at the provisional recommendations of the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner which were unveiled today.
Dr Stephen Farry MLA stated: “We believe that the original mandate given to the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner by the Minister and the Assembly was flawed. Having 11 councils strikes the wrong balance between efficient service delivery, quality local representation and accessibility. The Commissioner has not been sufficiently flexible within the parameters set by him.
“A minimalist approach has been adopted to making changes on the overall boundaries of the new groupings of councils. While Belfast has expanded to an extent, it is still short of meeting its natural boundaries. For Alliance, this is not about getting into a wrangle about perceived demographic balance, but recognising that Belfast should be a major driver of the regional economy with control over its natural territory. It makes sense for the remaining parts of Castlereagh, where the people regard themselves as residents of Belfast, to be moved across. There are other anomalies such as Saintfield being part of a Newry and Down Council rather than going in with Ards and North Down.
“These reforms are supposed to be about efficiencies to the public purse and more effective service delivery. The nature of some of the boundaries proposed calls this into question.
“Alliance will be making detailed counter-proposals to today’s recommendations.”