Cllr. Judith Cochrane said: “We are disappointed but hardly surprised that the DUP have refused to support our motion to increase fairness but we continue to have grave concerns with the current arrangements which allow one party to have access to the Management Team responsible for formulating strategic policy for the Council. In every other Council, no political representatives sit on the Management Team and we believe that this is for very good reason.
“We were lectured about the fact that Councillors run Castlereagh and we have no problem with this; however, if the role of this Councillor on the Management Team is to get a view from a Councillor’s perspective, then this could be more fairly and inclusively done by meeting with the group leaders of all the parties; for example, in other Councils, there are regular meetings between the Chief Executive and each party group to look at issues of strategic direction. Why should only one party have this privilege in Castlereagh?
“During the debate, the Chief Executive also confirmed that the DUP members who have sat on the Council since Peter Robinson have done so without any minute approving their position as the only minute that mentions the role is from 1997 and only refers to the DUP leader. I am pleased that our efforts to increase openness and transparency have uncovered the fact that the Council was not informed of these changes but has not even authorised them until the DUP amendment was voted through last night.
“We will continue to pursue this matter at all levels and in the meantime will be demanding that the minutes of these meetings are made available to all Councillors.
“We are particularly disappointed by the attitude of the UUP who backed the DUP’s efforts to maintain this privileged position. Is there ever a time when they will stand up to the DUP in Castlereagh? In contrast, Alliance will continue to lead change and provide the only viable alternative in the Council in terms of forcing more openness and transparency. We will continue to fight to make Castlereagh Council fairer, more open and transparent.”