The Local Government Boundaries Commissioner has been tasked with reviewing the proposed boundaries for the seven super-councils under the Review of Public Administration, and the boundaries of the individual wards. The provisional recommendations were out for public consultation until early January, and were followed by a series of public hearings. The revised recommendations can be found at: www.lgbc-ni.org. The fresh recommendations are again open for comment until 30th April. The final recommendations will be submitted to the Minister for the Environment by 31st May. This would be followed by a separate process for compiling the new District Electoral Areas.
Commenting upon the revised recommendations, Stephen Farry stated: “These boundary review process relates to the process of creating seven super-councils. Alliance remains firmly opposed to this approach. With the restoration of the Assembly, there is a good prospect of a major rethink on the number of Councils. If so, this overall should become relatively moot. Nonetheless, some of the detailed work may set precedents. So, the process should be taken seriously.
“The revised recommendations are only a small improvement upon the original provisional recommendations.
“Across Northern Ireland, only two proposed changes to the boundaries to the super-Councils have been considered. One is restoring Mussenden Temple to the same area as the rest of Coleraine, and transferring one street between Belfast and Castlereagh.
“Notably, to the south of Belfast, there remains a major inconsistency with the borders with the proposed East Council with neither the Castlereagh buildline or the dual carriageway being used. In the south, the Mournes remain split between two councils rather than placed within one so that they can be managed most effectively. As it stands, the East and South Councils meet at the summit of Slieve Donard.
“Changes have only really been made with respect to tidying up some proposed ward boundaries to make their more logical, in particular to avoid unnecessarily splitting housing developments or villages, and some changes in ward names. Many of the changes that have been implemented do reflect proposals made by the Alliance Party.
“Finally, it is worth noting that none of the suggested alternative names for the unwielding and meaningless titles for the new Councils were accepted. Ultimately, this matter will be referred to any new Councils.”