Local councils services, roles and resources key to Covid recovery and upcoming Programme for Government
The reconvened Northern Ireland Partnership Panel held its first meeting of 2021 virtually this week (20th January 2021).
The Forum provides a policy and action platform between the Stormont Executive and the 11 councils on matters of common policy concern and development.
Chaired by the Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, the meeting focused on the partnership work required by all parts of government to deliver for our citizens both in terms of Covid and future plans for council resources, waste management, sports, climate change and more.
Members also developed joint working proposals by NILGA and the Executive Departments including the Shared Prosperity Fund & UK Environment Bill, tailored to N. Ireland’s interests and ambitions.
NILGA President, Councillor Matt Garrett (Belfast City Council), commented:
“I was delighted to see Minister Hargey back in her role and we very much welcome the opportunity to work with her and her Department in the immediate and longer-term challenges our councils and communities face.
“Partnership and joined-up government across our region has never been more crucial, while the Covid-19 pandemic and its full impact will be felt for many years to come, the real impact on people’s lives, their communities and their finances can only be truly supported by all parts of government working collectively together for the betterment of everyone. Councils are key and require resources to deliver the many expectations placed upon them, just as Government departments are financially challenged too – so we need to get together and draw down as much support as possible from wider government and protect the vulnerable in our society with essential services.
“Councils will very soon be striking rates for the forthcoming financial year, a Covid Recovery period, we all trust. I fervently hope that as many reassurances as possible are provided by colleagues across government to ensure that in the absence of much of our income, from leisure and other services, and with the business rates likely to be severely depleted, we can maintain our services, our workforce and build a new local economy for the future. I can see that Ministers are supportive of local government. This support has included and must include in the year ahead finance which will yield a massive return for citizens, essential public services, our environment and our economy. NILGA brings together all the councils and this Panel therefore puts the local citizen at the heart of government.”