Speaking after NILGA’s Reform, Devolution and Improvement Member and Officer Team meeting this week, Cllr. Mark Glasgow, Chair, strongly reasserted the need to strengthen the role of councils in Northern Ireland.
“While It is a temporary relief to know that Stormont has survived another crisis and will live for another day, the institutions in central government in Northern Ireland have several challenges to overcome in the long term. Earlier this week, NILGA’s cross party, all council team met to finalise further work on the Programme for Government, the long awaited review of public sector reform, and innovative ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency by shared services to those who need them most. We determined real work underpinned by real vision in a collegiate team. I believe that should be the benchmark for all government – innovative, sustainable governance and investment in services that matter to local people.
“It is long overdue that councils in Northern Ireland are properly factored into the Programme for Government – and NILGA will be working hard to ensure this Programme is driven by locality based budgets, by Community Planning, by very accurate, modern, council derived data and local input so as to transform how our public services are designed, delivered and performance checked.
“The performance and longevity of our councils are healthy, but would be healthier still if powers, resources and legislative autonomy was enhanced without reliance on either the Assembly or Westminster. Giving councils the power to advance city, town and village regeneration schemes or to trigger exciting capital and technology projects to make our economy and environment more sustainable would truly transform our local communities.
“Devolution must continue below Stormont to councils so as to give certainty to investors and citizens alike. They should be hubs for all public sector investment, just like anywhere else in the UK. It’s not rocket science we need, just a cultural and fiscal shift from central to local, so as we can thrive and have certainty going forward.”