David Ford stated: “Clearly the SDLP is moving its position on the institutions, but we also wish to discuss other areas where the Executive is apparently contradicting itself, such as reform of the rating system and rural planning.
“On sharing, we welcome Mark Durkan’s comments last week. The logical next step is a fully accountable system of government that is unshackled from the sectarian designation system. If segregation in our community is to be tackled at all it must be fully removed from the political institutions.
“On the rating system and the reform of local government, we wish to see progress away from sectarian carve-up and punitive rates for householders. We want to see fairer systems in place across the board. The public, who are voters and consumers, deserve better, and on rates we want to see a system in place that takes into account people’s ability to pay. We do not want to see older people or people on low incomes hit harder than others.
“On rural planning we will push the SDLP to be realistic about planning. Their opposition to PPS 14 rural planning policy is unsustainable in every sense of the word. We believe in being responsive to the needs of rural communities, but we will not allow over-development to scar our countryside beyond repair.
“We are determined to take the lead on promoting a shared future and ensuring that this Assembly delivers for those who elected us to it. We are not prepared to wait around for other parties’ side deals. We will be doing all we can to put our key themes – tackling segregation, re-balancing the economy and promoting sustainability – at the heart of the Assembly’s programme. We are also taking the lead in pushing the tribal parties back to work.”