Local government all shook up…

MINISTER Ian Pearson described it as “the greatest change to almost every area of the public sector and to local government for over 30 years”, as plans for a revamped local government structure were unveiled today. Among the major changes were proposals to reduce the number of district councils from 26 to no more than 15 (a climbdown for the Minister, who wanted single figures) and plans to reduce the number of education boards from five to one ‘education services support body’. The four health boards and 18 trusts will be replaced by either five or seven sub-regional health and personal social services agencies, and the Minister expects to save up to £235 million per year from his changes – which means inevitable job cuts. Mr Pearson added that in future local government would play a “significant part of the overall governance of Northern Ireland” – but let’s not hope that it will be the only part.

Anyone know why the Review of Public Administration website is down? Has it moved?

  • beano

    No indication at all of where the new boundaries will be. I’m curious about how much of the surrouding area, if any, Belfast will take in.

    I always thought each county should have a council, plus Belfast City (incorporating at least part of Newtownabbey and the parts of west Belfast now technically in Lisburn’s council area) and (London)Derry City.

  • beano

    Also noticed the lack of any date for implementation. I presume it won’t be before May’s local elections… ?

  • beano

    Sorry just checked my Tele, who say that while the health/education changes could be in within 2 years, the council setup would require a boundary commission which could mean the changes may not be in place until 2009 or after.

  • Impractical Observer

    The boundaries are based on amalgamating existing councils except in the 15-council scenario where westminster constituencies are also considered (the Belfast ones being rolled up into one authority).

    Mostly Belfast city council is left as it is in all the proposals as with about 250,000 people its still bigger than most of the new supercouncils.

  • Alan

    Does this seem like a simple choice to anyone else?

    The optimum choice for value for money is 7 councils. The optimum choice for building coherent links with the HPSS is 7. The local identity research shows that ordinary people do not associate with the existing councils and don’t want to pay for local identity, prefering services that operate effectively – so 11 and 15 have no additional merit.

    Beano,

    You are quite right, Belfast should expand to include parts of Newtonabbey. I would suggest that most of urban Castlereagh should also be included ( why does Castlereagh start at Ladas Drive?). I would query adding parts of Lisburn since it has become a city, although would not be averse to that also.