New NILGA President calls for commitment to financial sustainability for local councils

The new President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) has said that addressing the challenges in achieving balanced and respectful central/local government relationships is a main priority for her in the year ahead.

Speaking at her inauguration speech at NILGA’S AGM, which took place at the end of June online due to the closeness of the election, Councillor Alison Bennington (DUP, Antrim and Newtownabbey) said that current financial pressures on public services provided by councils, shows that central and local government must work together in delivering the transformation which is needed to put Northern Ireland on a sustainable footing long term.

In this latest mandate NILGA continues to call for devolution of further powers to local government including place-shaping and regeneration, as well as greater investment in transformation and innovation for councils and councillors.

Speaking at the AGM, Cllr Alison Bennington said:

“It is hard to remember a more challenging time regarding the financial position of public services. Difficult days are still to come, and serious transformation is needed across the board with funding to go alongside it.  Local government has a lot to offer these discussions given that councils are politically led, complex multi-disciplinary organisations.

Councils still continue to deliver despite these challenges and the financial pressures and have shown innovation, flexibility, and resilience.  Other parts of public service can learn from our experience, and we are willing to play our part in wider discussions.

It is apparent that given the scale of challenges at central government level that tough decisions are and will continue to be made on funding at local government level.

However, the funding to local government is but a minute fraction of the challenges and given the nonfinancial added value brought to this funding by councils it is short sighted to say the least to continue cutting our funding.

What is needed without a doubt is serious transformation of local government with communities at the heart.

Local government recognises that this won’t be found lacking with creativity, innovation, and agility, but we need to be involved proactively as an equal sphere of government for change to happen.

It will be a privilege for me to be NILGA President next April 2025 on the 10th anniversary of the 11 new councils coming into being. This is a huge milestone for local government and NILGA will be ensuring it provides the best opportunity for councils and our sector to showcase what we do.”

Outgoing NILGA President Matt Garrett (Sinn Fein, Belfast City Council) said:

“Throughout the year we have continued to make the cause for councils across the country., lobbying for greater finances and new powers, which will allow councils to remain strong community leaders.

The cost-of-living crisis and the previous absence of central government at Stormont placed further strain on our sector, but I am proud of the response of all 11 councils in providing leadership, delivering for local citizens, and supporting their communities.

As we go forward it is vital that our sector gets the proper funding and resources, we need to continue delivering for those we support.

For me personally, the past 12 months have been busy and packed with activity.

One of my personal highlights was getting to host the UK Local Government Forum. It was a privilege to host our colleagues from England, Scotland, and Wales over the course of a couple of days to show them the sights of Belfast and to discuss pressing issues which affect us all collectively.”


For further details contact Karen Ireland at

NILGA President Appointment - July 2024 3.jpg

This site uses essential cookies for parts of the site to operate and have already been set. Find out more about how we use cookies and how you may delete them here. You may delete cookies, but parts of the site will not work.