Published 25 April 2012 @ 18:01
NILGA, the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, attended the first Regional Transition Committee meeting of the Local Government Reform Programme on 25th April 2012. Chaired by the DoE Minister, Alex Attwood, each of the 11 Voluntary Transition Committees were invited to attend. Through the Regional body, the Minister intends to provide high level political leadership for the implementation of council reform.
With members from each of the 26 Councils, NILGA seeks to bring NI wide political leadership & inclusivity, together with the knowledge and experience of its political leaders, being the five Office Bearers selected by the main political parties.
NILGA’s President, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, stated: “NILGA welcomes the initial meeting of the Regional Transition Committee but collectively we must now get to work on a task and finish basis to put in place the finance, democratic scrutiny, work plan, communications, structures and timetable for reform. NILGA, on behalf of the local government sector, views reform as a means to an end – stronger local government, greater local decision taking and sustainable communities. Reform isn’t an end in itself”.
She added: “There should be no doubt at any level that this change process must have up-front investment and must be driven by the long standing vision of stronger local government doing more for local people, devolving resources and functions from the centre whilst retaining the sense of place so important to the community we represent and the many visitors to our council areas”.
NILGA’s Chief Executive, Derek McCallan, added: “The decision to reform councils was taken by central government. Councillor members of NILGA continue to provide solutions, resources, data, knowledge and constructive criticism – underpinned by the best interests of the sector. NILGA has urged that the Programme of Reform produces the key outcome of strong, contemporary, sustainable local government. Cheap local government reform, forced on the sector without investment or creative ways to enable councils to invest in reform will simply fail the customer.
This valuable opportunity must not turn into a mechanical process. We call upon Ministers and MLAs to seize the opportunity to determine local government reform as a formal outcome, also, of the Review of the NI Assembly and the number of government departments. A whole system review is required - not just the 4 or 5 pence in the tax pound which is the cost of council services to the public. In partnership we can get the whole thing done, once, robustly, thoroughly, for ratepayers and with councils - not any other institution – at the fore”.