Reform, Devolution and Improvement


The purpose of the Network is to develop evidence, policy and deliver actions during this electoral term (to April 2023) regarding devolution to and below Stormont to councils and communities, from national level government. The Network will also build member and councils capacity in relation to ensuring performance improvement, shared services, negotiations around new investment and new burdens, and provide a regional framework for local government in partnership with officers and members to bring about greater effectiveness, collaboration and efficiency of councils and the wider public sector budget spend of £24 billion annually.

Councillor Mark Glasgow Chair

Network Members - Cllr Mark Glasgow (MU) Chair, Cllr Sean McPeake (MU) Vice-Chair, Cllr Vera McWilliam (A&N), Cllr Philip Smith (A&ND), Cllr Kevin Savage (ABC), Cllr Geraldine McAteer (BCC), Cllr Aaron Callan (CCG), Cllr Paul Blake (F&O), Ald Stephen Martin (LCCC), Cllr Emmet Doyle (DC&S), Cllr Beth Adger (MEA) and Cllr Trevor Wilson (MU). 

Support Officers: - Derek McCallan (NILGA CEO), Louise Kennedy (MEA), Mark Mulholland (BCC) & Alfie Dallas (DC&S & ALGFO).




Scrutiny and Challenge of Legislation and related initiatives which affect the existing and proposed post Covid powers, resources, and roles of councils in Northern Ireland (all term).

Programme for Government (NI EO & departments) (all term).

The New Programme for Local Government (NILGA) (revised by February 2022).

Lobbying Ministers, Committees, Government, and other institutions (all term). 

Building a Post Covid joint lobbying group of Strategic Partner Bodies including APSE, CLES, and DTNI, as part of evidence-based lobbying.

Leadership & input into designing and delivering (by end of 2021) to include shared services, an Improvement and Development Agency for NI local government (NILG IDeA) aligned to the LGTG Review.


Covid-19 has decimated local and global economies. The roles of councils are – and will continue to be - completely refocussed as a result. The importance of local place shaping, resilience, data gathering, community planning and much more is in sharp focus right now.

Local democracy and the councils upholding it have an ironic opportunity to make a case for localism, with powers and resources coming to communities via local authorities. After Covid-19, it is the case that there is a better appreciation that local government remains an under-utilised and markedly under-resourced part of our public services delivery and our democratic governance here in N. Ireland, despite councils meeting huge and increased challenges in terms of constituent, corporate, local and regional (NI) work. Covid-19 proved that – but it had been proven before. 

It’s main aim is to “future proof” local councils in terms of them being sustainable, availing of new resources, adopting modern performance standards, developing appropriate shared services and with greater enabling powers, so that as local authorities in NI they can develop with greater role and resource certainty and with a strong body of functions, as a key (but locally governed / independent) part of government and democracy.


The work of the Reform, Devolution, and Improvement network 2020 - 2023 seeks to:

  • Increase our 11 councils’ strategic portfolio and representative roles by lobbying with evidence for the delivery, co-ordination and influence of more guaranteed resources to support more public services devolved to local government and other local stakeholders through new / amended legislation, new fiscal settlements, and capacity building.
  • Commission and publish, through councils and specialist bodies, evidence of the benefits of greater post Covid reform of our public administration, evidence which will materially impact on (i) above as well as the emergency and longer term Programmes for Government and NILGA’s Programme for Local Government.
  • Map out existing improvement and shared services work, together with the promotion of core business recovery work tailored to each council’ fragile budgets, prior to developing, designing and co-ordinating a regional, all council, Business Transformation & Improvement initiative, covering shared services, improvement, efficiency and collaboration.
  • Complement and integrate the other NILGA policy and learning networks and supporting the new & co-designed Stormont Policies for rebuilding N. Ireland economically, socially, and democratically post Covid.

Partners / Stakeholders

11 Councils

Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)

Association of Local Government Finance Officers (ALGFO)

Local Government Training Group (LGTG)

Association of Public Sector Excellence (APSE)

Strategic Policy Partners of NILGA

Department for Communities, The Executive Office (on legislation / Programme for Government matters)

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