Too much power in the centre does not work?

There’s some speculation flying about that Arlene Foster is about to announce long awaited plans for the re-organisation of local government. The Fermanagh Herald reports that Ministers are due to make their decisions this week, so that we may get to hear the final outcome next. Sinn Fein previously backed plans to shave the number of councils from a commodious 26, down to 7. The other issue of course is what increased powers will they have. Alderman Arnold Hatch, current President of NILGA told the Newsletter:

“I will be writing urgently to the Stormont Executive in one last ditch attempt to urge them to devolve control of the local roads budget, youth services, libraries and some housing functions to the new councils as a starting position in strengthening local government. It is well proven that holding too much power in the centre does not work”.

  • willowfield

    *In general terms, all services previously run by councils before 1973 (and for which we [notionally] pay our rates) should be given back to them.

    Then councils can have more control over setting the rates and can be more accountable for them.

    * Obviously some services, such as water, will remain with other agencies.

  • interested

    Hatch seems to be one of those Councillors who believes that giving stuff like roads to local government would be some great thing.

    The only reason he wants it of course is that not only could he and colleages then claim that they will “get you a site” because they will have more planning powers, but they’ll also tell you that they (personally of course) will fix that pot-hole outside your house.

    In that lust for picture opportunities for the local rag (see councillor pointing aimlessly at uneven piece of tar) he forgets that the costs would also be passed on. So, instead of having one Roads Service, we’d have 11 (or 15) – each replicating the services, equipment and staff of the next one and ensuring increased costs. All happily passed onto the ratepayer by Councillors who only look for the next gormless picture in the paper.

    There are good arguments for youth services and libraries to be the responsibility of local Councils, but not roads, no please not roads!

  • allybo

    ”In that lust for picture opportunities for the local rag (see councillor pointing aimlessly at uneven piece of tar)…”

    Blimey, do you get The Down Recorder too, Interested?

  • joeCanuck

    all services previously run by councils before 1973 should be given back to them.

    You mean like building houses and councillors allocating them?

  • interested

    Nope – Don’t think i’ve ever had the pleasure of reading that particular high quality purveyor of local news.

    Its not limited to one area though and not limited to one party. Its a disease which seems to be prevalent across the country and across every party. The ability for a Councillor to believe that he/she is much more important than they really are must be some course they’re sent on after election.

  • The__Raven

    If you actually ever sat in a Chamber and watched them, as they put forward their “motions” – bowel motions more like.

    While Councils look after programmes such as neighbourhood renewal, community safety, the new rural development programme, leisure, tourism (I nearly chuckled there…), economic development and so on, you really should take a trawl through some of their online minutes to see what these guys really think count (in between burials and dog licences).

    Anyone taking a bet on numbers? I was ready to put money down on 15 (parliamentary boundaries, no need for a further money wasting commission), but it seems to have swung back to 11….

  • Ahem

    Eight is the magic number: the two real cities & the 6 counties (with Belfast extending to more or less its real metropolitan boundaries ie bits would be, a la Middlesex, lumped out the ‘historic’/postal counties and put into the ‘Belfast’ that has steadily spilt out into them).

    These eight units are the natural, organic sub-divisions people can meaningfully identify with. And in such a pissante small place as Norn Iron, no more than eight as an absolute maximum gets us to local government areas which can support any sort of serious political infrastructure.

  • happy lundy

    “Eight is the magic number”

    If we have a 516,000 person County Down County Council can we have Stormont for our county council please?

  • joeCanuck

    The wasters at Stormont don’t have much to do. Rename the place the 6 County Council. Nothing more needed.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Local government spends less than 2&#xof; theNI budget.Might it not be better to see where savings could be made in the other98% first.I speak with knowledge of both systems.

  • willowfield

    You mean like building houses and councillors allocating them?

    If you mean should “social” housing be run by local authorities (as it is everywhere else), yes, of course.

  • lib2016

    Terrific – we need local tension between different levels of authority and areas of influence. Politicans and people both need to be trusted with responsibility if we are to move forward together. Of course there will be abuses as there have always been abuses for ‘to err is human’ but correcting them is the way we will grow up together. What produced the Troubles was the perception that there was no way to correct abuses.

    I just hope we don’t get the usual moaners coming on to tell us this will be a ‘final settlement’. There is no such thing, and if there was what we talk about on Slugger? 😉