There’s a fair few councillors who are looking at their last time out as councillors if Peter Hain’s proposal’s for council reform go through. As widely trailed by the Beeb and others, the new set up is to see the number of coucils cut from twenty six to seven and councillors drop from 582 to 350, with fifty councillors in each.Under the proposals, the Government would:
:: Give councils increased powers, such as responsibility for local roads, economic development in their areas, planning and physical regeneration, and place a duty on them to develop and co-ordinate a community planning strategy which meets the needs of their communities;
:: Bring forward legislation after devolution preventing some politicians having more than one office as both a local councillor and Assembly member;
:: Create a single Education Authority for Northern Ireland to replace the five education and library boards in the province which currently manage local schools, administer school transport and meals, assist research and provide recreational and youth service facilities. The new body will also have responsibility for curriculum and teacher support;
:: Establish a new Strategic Health and Social Services Authority which will take the place of Northern Ireland`s four existing health and social services boards and will have to ensure that services are meeting standards and resources are allocated effectively;
:: Reduce the number of hospital and social services trusts from 18 to five.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty