The BBC’s Mark Devenport has an update on the work of the Local Government Reform Taskforce, which has been busying itself over the summer with the detail of how the new model of local government, the 7 uber-Councils, will actually operate. Majority weighted voting seems to be in, although there are potential concerns about the new greater Antrim council, and there’s also a proposal for a Commissioner of Local Government – less grand than it sounds – and a Communities Minister… details on that suggestion are in this pdf file.. while a little more detail on the Commissioner’s role can be found hereThe Commissioner seems to be an attempt to resolve problems before the Local Government Auditor, whose role remains the same, is called in.
• Provision must be made to allow reference of concerns over conduct, behaviour or actions by individuals or groups Councillors to an external Commissioner for Local Government. This will not replace existing organisations (see above) nor prevent recourse to legal action/judicial review but is designed to be a quicker, less costly means of resolving concerns.
I do get the feeling though that this update and all the apparent progress has more to do with events elsewhere… as suggested in the final paragraph of the BBC report..
The details of all of this are yet to be agreed, as are the precise boundaries of the new councils and where their headquarters will be.
But the progress made so far in the latest blueprint appears in stark contrast to the continuing deadlock at Stormont.