Responding to reports that the Review of Public Administration, under Minister Ian Pearson MP, is set to propose a reduction from 26 to only seven Councils, Alliance Party Chief Whip, Kieran McCarthy MLA (Strangford), stated that this proposal risks undermining local democracy across Northern Ireland.
Kieran McCarthy stated:
“While Alliance agrees with many aspects of the Review of Public Administration on matters such as health and education, we feel that the proposals on local government have major shortcomings.
“With only seven councils serving populations of around 250,000, decisions will be taken much more remotely from the people affected. Councillors are the first point of contact for constituents. There will no sense of local identity with these new administrative boundaries, and there will be a danger of certain communities being seen as peripheral in terms of services.
“The pressure for another tier of local government below will become irresistible. The proposed area committees will then become yet another tier of local government, undermining the notion of unitary local government, and defeating the purpose of this review.
“It would be more realistic for the Government to work on the basis of 15 councils. This would be more appropriate to the level of services, would preserve local democracy, and sustain a lower level of government overall.
“Alliance will be meeting with Ian Pearson this Thursday, and will be making these points to the minister.”