Ford says Departmental move an administrative nightmare

Alliance South Antrim MLA David Ford has said a proposed Departmental move from Belfast to the north-west has turned into “an administrative nightmare” after it was revealed that it would not be completed until 2029.

Mr Ford discovered the damaging effect of the controversial move of the former Department of Agriculture and Rural Development – now the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – while quizzing the Permanent Secretary of the Department during the first committee session of the new Assembly term.

In addition, the civil servant revealed as there will be no compulsory moves for staff, there will be a potential loss of corporate knowledge to compound the issue. This follows the new Department losing 18 per cent of its staff through the voluntary exit scheme over the last two years, including people in key leadership positions.

“Alliance has criticised the logic of this move from the start,” said Mr Ford.

“The Sinn Fein Minister who started the ball rolling on this move had no business case with any validity in the first place, but continued to push ahead with it despite all advice to the contrary. For whatever reason, DUP Ministers are now supporting a move which will cost a very large sum at a time when budgets are under pressure.

“In the next few weeks, we will hear about limited funds for agriculture support, rural development and environmental protection. The reduction in such worthwhile expenditure is a direct result of the politically motivated decision to move an entire Department without a proper business case.

“While we are not opposed to the decentralisation of jobs, at a time when the public purse strings are being tightened across the board, the cost of this move should be redirected to frontline services and not spent on a long, expensive and frankly ridiculous personal crusade.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *