Poots To Announce Return of the 26 Councils?

Rumours of the death of our twenty six local government councils have been greatly exaggerated, apparently- at least if this Newsletter article is correct. The paper suggests that an imminent announcement will confirm that the Super Council project will be postponed for another five years, leaving us in an as-you-were position next year when we return to the polling booths as the reform agenda gets kicked to touch for another while….

  • braniel unionist

    do u reckon the local government elections will be held on the same day as the assembly election next year? to eeer save money?

  • Drumlin Rock

    that wouldnt really be fair on those councillors who want to try for stormont too.

  • Michaelhenry

    told this last week, both on the same day.

  • redhugh78

    So no golden handshakes to long serving councillors?

  • Michaelhenry

    thats double jobing, its a good idea for everyone else.

  • Michaelhenry

    no, just a kick in the privates.

  • HarryJ

    is wee reg still a councillor as well as minister, MLA and leader of the UUP – ooops probaly scrub the minister and leader bit now

  • braniel unionist

    same day elections suit the big batallions, indie candidates on a low budget just can’t compete anymore, same old same old next year!

  • Sean Og

    Hardly a surprise.

    This mob couldn’t deliver a p*ss up in a bewerly. It’s the Pioneer wing and TTs I blame.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Were the super councils plan just scuppered because the DUP couldnt stomach the moving of a bit of Lisburn to Belfast?

  • Mrazik

    Aye. F*ck local democratic accountabililty an’ all thon.

  • John East Belfast

    26 Councils, 108 MLAs, 18 MPs for 1.7m people ?

    And the same people are insisting on no cuts to NI Block grant

  • Drumlin Rock

    Think there was a bit more to it, and to be fair I think many are having second thoughts on whether the whole thing is needed, the savings are not that substancial, and could easily disappear, wheras a bit of simple rationalisation could save as much if not more with a whole less hassle.

  • Drumlin Rock

    John, the costs of those are buttons compared to the rest of the civil service.

  • Garza

    JEB. Politics here is all about the £££. Ask Gerry about his “industrial wage”.

    Yet people vote for these beggars election after election.

  • Mrazik

    Then we should get rid of all the councils or the Assembly but we sure won’t have democratic accountability over issues such as planning until there is serious reform. Remember that in terms of functions this was to bring us (more or less) into line with ‘normal’ practice in GB and RoI.

    What about all the grandiose ideas about community planning etc.? Such things can only work if local authorities have a suite of complementary functions so that words can be backed up with deeds.

    We also need a major reform of central Government Departments as it is there where a lot of the waste is.

  • John East Belfast

    I am sure you could easily find the £200m though that is being sought to share the UK pain ?

  • slug

    I think this is a cop out.

  • Drumlin Rock

    JEB, that is probably more than it cost to run all 26 councils, they do account for a misicule amount of the total block grant.

  • joeCanuck

    Nope, just continuing sinecures for the good ol’ boys and girls.

  • joeCanuck

    MLAs should certainly be cut to 54. There are far too many “no added value” folks sitting on the hill.

  • Drumlin Rock

    sorry just looked it up, its about £650 million, still a tiny fraction of the block.

  • realistic idealist

    does anybody know how much money has been spent on reforming the councils so far? as it is now all potentially wasted, in a similar way to all the money wasted making plans for the Maze/Longkesh stadium, also due to DUP intransigence and generally time wasting an f**king about!

  • John East Belfast

    I would need to see the figures but no matter what way you cut it there is clear duplication of jobs and cost.
    eg I couldnt believe every council has its own “tourist” office and “economic development office”.
    they probably have their own accountants and H&S etc etc.

  • union mack

    michael your mob wouldn’t be at anything like the double jobbing now

  • Bit premature Pootsy.

    This will be back on the agenda, expect owen praterson to ensure it is.

  • redhugh78

    would not agree with that from a SF perspective.

  • Wouldn’t be because with RPA there would be fewer Councils (11) with more powers than Stormont Executive Departments (12) with less powers? No, couldn’t be that.

  • Cynic

    more millions wasted

  • Michaelhenry

    my mob and the double, what do you think old hand.

  • Local Government Officer

    Just as a little background to the un-informed. This might take a while, and sorry for rambling.

    Of all the total costs of all things public sector in Northern Ireland, Councils come to around 4.5%.

    Even with transferring functions from Central Government, costs would have risen to around 7%. And the Departments are resisting giving ANYTHING to local government, except the dregs. I can post examples.

    “I couldnt believe every council has its own “tourist” office and “economic development office”.”

    Actually yes they do. But NITB pays for most of the tourist office, not the Council. The localised set-up of these is no different from across the water. Ask for usage figures. You’ll be surprised at just how high the numbers of users are.

    And the “economic development offices” lever in hundreds of thousands each year to their respective areas from a multitude of funds – central government, ESF/ERDF, lottery sources, INTERREG, etc No other other local development agencies do this, and to that scale. Even the very smallest council levers in a couple of extra million a year. Yeah we could get rid of a few jobs, but you’d be getting a tenner back in your rates and losing shit-loads for the local economy.

    The cost of the Council element of RPA was to be an immediate £118m. The cost savings projected were to be around £430m over 25 years. It took PWC to work that out, and I don’t know how much they charged Stormont for such fiscal wisdom.

    “does anybody know how much money has been spent on reforming the councils so far?”

    Yeah, at December 2009, around £6m, all from central government sources.

    “as it is now all potentially wasted”

    Well yeah some of it has, if this doesn’t go on. But you will generally find, with the exception of two in the south-west, that substantial joint-working is happening with more sharing of services. Money will be saved. But not with thanks to that £6m.

    “Were the super councils plan just scuppered because the DUP couldnt stomach the moving of a bit of Lisburn to Belfast?”

    Maybe. Couldn’t comment. 🙂

    “I think this is a cop-out.”

    Not really. Timing is the issue. We are now 12 months away from D-Day. IF we had been given the nod in November, we could have implemented it. But time and again, dates and timelines passed and nothing happened; no instruction or guidance came from Belfast. The councillors will already have had an extra year in power (I think). I believe they can legally have no more. Owen might WANT to tell us to get on with it, but at this stage now, it simply cannot be done with absolute chaos. It WILL happen by 2015, maybe even by 2012. All we need is the get-go from Stormont.

    Can I just add this as someone who doesn’t often get the chance to contribute? Local councils are a bit shambolic at times, but I moved in from a background in the voluntary sector, and later, the private sector, and with a couple of notable exceptions, they do an incredible amount with relatively little resource.

    I often see lots of posts here grumbling about the rates. I see an awful lot more which post an incredible diatribe of un-informed nonsense, usually based on what they hear on Nolan. Those who do post that nonsense should actually take the time to go in and ASK what it is that councils do. They might be actually be surprised at the range of services provided.

    Thanks.

  • Munsterview

    John E B
    ( Did you see the last Free M posting re I.R.B. ?)

    In Southern France some years back. Small mountain communities 60 / 100 people each with own Mayor. Fire in local school kitchen. Mayor there almost as quickly as fire service. Took charge, booked small restaurant in nearby large village for kids dinners and arranged transport. Insurance cleared in three days, estimates for work in and decided on within a week, work completed within weeks, kids having lunch in new and improved facilities.

    One of Jean le Penn’s party, could make Turgon seem moderate but Boy could he get things done!

    A few CM’s of snow here last winter and Dublin at a standstill. Out there for one Christmas, see a half meter of show fall in five hours, next morning all roads opened by 9-am, by ten we had driven 20 k to the valley floor and on to main highway without a problem.

    Multiplicity of councils are not the problem; just like the South they do not have real power and what power exists is exercised my Government appointed professional Managers not elected officials. Yet not one of these Town or County Managers North or South could make the decision that Mayor in charge of his French Mountain did!

    Even more localized Councils and real power to the people is something that would provide a lot of answers to a lot of local problems North and South alike. Not really Sinn Fein’s cup of tea either I am afraid; the Leadership have been fans of ‘all power to the center’ for many a long year now.

    Never agreed with this …. or never will!

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s nothing to do with Owen Patterson. This is a devolved matter.

    It is up to the devolved executive to determine whether it is good value for money to keep all the councils or not. I’ve been hearing for the last 18 months that this project was likely to get dropped due to the savings not being as significant as people hoped.

  • Comrade Stalin

    LGO,

    Sorry old bean, but I don’t see much of what the local council does other than lifting the bins and sweeping the streets – and they don’t always do that effectively.

    Why should I have to take the time to ask people how or why my money is being spent ? That is preposterous and typical of the attitude of certain elements in the public sector. I expect the council to demonstrate its value. That’s an argument they address by posting a rather glossy and expensively-produced magazine through the door once every quarter. Most of the content is about how to use your bin effectively, the work of the DPP (centrally funded), tourism (which you’re saying is also centrally funded), and leisure centres (council funded – but I don’t understand why!).

    As for this “save a tenner on the rates but cut loads” thing, my rates have gone up by more than that (I’m in Newtownabbey) each year for several years in a row, and that’s on the back of a freeze in the regional component of the rate.

  • drumlins rock

    thanks, think you have put things very well, I also think much of what your saying is dawning on the parties at Stormont and the local councils, the 11 “super councils” only make sense if they were going to get more real powers, but that is obiviously not going to happen, therefore the current roles with some tweaking are much better carried out on a smaller more local basis. Personally I think we need to go back to square one as the whole process has been based on false proposals, and if it is forced through even in 2012 or 2015 it will only be a short term fix, as local communities will be pushing for local forums of some sort and over time ad-hoc councils will develop, not really what was intended im sure.

  • LGO quote

    “Those who do post that nonsense should actually take the time to go in and ASK what it is that councils do. They might be actually be surprised at the range of services provided.”

    Hello LGO. Please list in two columns that which councils statutorily have to do and that which they do. Thanks in anticipation.

  • coconnor

    I hear Sammy Wilson’s not too happy with Poots…

  • cynic47

    Devolved matter perhaps but money talks. He who pays the piper and all that. If Paterson talks of reductions in the NI budget unless RPA proceeds then it will happen. If this debacle happened anywhere else in the world or in the private sector heads would roll but then this is Non Ireland and we do things differently. If the savings are not going to be what they were susposed to be then who got the sums wrong?

  • cynic47

    Norn Ireland!

  • John East Belfast

    cynic47

    You were right the first time !

  • Michaelhenry

    SAMMY WILSON is only happy when he is going through the woods with nothing on, jesus but that is an ugly thought.

  • madraj55

    Sammy McNally. This is part of what Brian Feeney pointed to in his column on Wednesday. Poots knows the Unionist majority on councils is shrinking alarmingly and being a member of Liburn council, doesn’t want it ebbing any further. So this ‘alleged democrat’ is holding up the new arrangement of seven over his own patch. The seven council idea is doomed.

  • I find it almost totally impossible to believe that local government officers and councillors have managed to do a Sir Humphrey on this curtailing of meal-tickets.

    I’d love to see a version of Yes Minister set in NI.

  • Charminator

    Has a date been set for next year’s Assembly and local elections? Curiously, is it Peter and Martin decide that…. Let’s hope not, we might never get a date if it is!

  • Liberal Unionist

    And you lot are only happy when your dragging someone through the woods with nothing on but a hood over their head!

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’d love to see a version of Yes Minister set in NI.’

    You must be a masochist . Amidst the usual bureaucratic bumbling and gainsaying you’d have all these Shinners and Flat earthers and born agains . I suppose they could call it ‘Nightmares on the Lagan ‘ /Hill /Donegal Square ??

    IIRC Northern Ireland does get a mention several times in the series and always in the context of an errant Minister facing demotion and being threatened with promotion i.e ‘exile’ to Northern Ireland 🙂

    Beyond Watford /Potters Bar was injun territory for the Sir Nigel Humphreys of Westminster and things haven’t changed all that much despite the ‘financial injuns’ nearly laying waste London’s financial centre and the hoped for kern of Cool Brittannia . Well we’ll see how the Cameroonian new era of sweetness and light and all things bright and hopeful pans out eh ?

  • drumlins rock

    “The cost of the Council element of RPA was to be an immediate £118m. The cost savings projected were to be around £430m over 25 years.”
    Those are the PWC figures, you can be guarnteed that the cost will come in higher and the savings less, services WILL be reduced, the whole scheme is simply change for changes sake.

  • Munsterview

    Explain please, some of us are not mind readers!

  • The thing I’ve found, dealing with civil servants in London and Belfast is that, in NI, all of the very worst stereotypes that people have traditionally (often unfairly) applied to civil servants generally actually do apply. Except they’re worse by a considerable factor.

    I’ve one acquaintance who is quite convinced that a lot of his staff are simply playing cat-and-mouse with him. Making even small initiatives almost impossible with a Kafkaesque web of restrictions, protocols, ways-and-means, procurement rules, standards compliance, confidentiality, carefully cultivated inertia, incompetence, territorial gamesmanship, ‘commercial confidentiality’ and so on.

    Add to this the clientelism that exists in NI, and the weak bargaining position of the legislature over the administration and you have something that’s just impossible to work with.

    Don’t get me wrong – most of these factors can be seen in every bureaucracy but usually, only a small portion of the time are you usually left with the view that you’re being willfully shafted. Of course, you can never *prove* that someone is either being dishonest or that they are willfully shafting you so you have to rely on your instincts. But when you’re left with that sour taste in your mouth after dealing with an organisation a lot of the time (as opposed to occasionally, with pen-pushers in London) you start to think that maybe something bigger is at work.

    I generally have no truck with the Tories and their anti-government Parkinsons Law instincts, but in NI’s case I really think that the next few years will be interesting. And if I were them, I’d squirrel a few quid away for arts grants to pay a few comedy writers to do a bit of embedded journalism in NI – it would pay off richly.

  • Munsterview

    Michael h

    Just like Sammy it seems can never pass up an opportunity to ‘provoke’ ‘the other side’ in the Assembly, neither can you it seems in these postings with this difference ……. his usually contain some bit of wit and intelligence!

  • madraj55

    JoeCanuck. that’s true, and a few dozen ‘heavily subtracted value’ ones. Three MLAs to each constit. is about right.

  • Munsterview

    In regard to Local Government and my previous posting of the French example of real power to local communities, there is absolutely no reason for a higher body holding power and function that a lower body could competently do. Unlike France we have highly populated areas and plenty of suitable towns where local area offices could be located with ready access to their rural hinterland.

    As to the ‘Yes Minister’ and typical civil service attitude to delivery of services; if this is personalized and local then most civil servants will deal with the public of their own communities the way the public would like to be dealt with and indeed the way the civil service themselves, I assume, would like to deal with the public if they could.

    The ‘all power to the centre’ attitude of most Assembly politicians Unionist, Nationalist and Republican alike, is all to do with maintaining their own capacity for patronage, rather than any real concerns of competent administration.

    The pressure for change in Local Government must come from the bottom up; it we are waiting for any meaningful change from the top down, then to quote a line from one of John Wanes Westerns, we ‘ can wait until hell freezes over’!

  • madraj55

    ‘This is a devolved matter’
    CS. And like most other devolved matters, it’s also a revolved matter. They have been going round in circles with it for months.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Chris,

    I know you are a great man for damping down expectations but If the Belfast Westminster results were replicated in council elections presumably there would be a Nationalist majoirty in Belfast?

  • Local Government Officer

    “I find it almost totally impossible to believe that local government officers and councillors have managed to do a Sir Humphrey on this curtailing of meal-tickets.”

    See, this is what I mean by the uninformed commentary. Council workers/councillors have had virtually no say in this. The timetable is driven from Stormont. I’ve covered this already. No direction, except for stalling, has come from there. They have missed date after date. I can’t say it any clearer.

    “Sorry old bean, but I don’t see much of what the local council does other than lifting the bins and sweeping the streets – and they don’t always do that effectively. Why should I have to take the time to ask people how or why my money is being spent ?”

    Comrade, no offence, but after following a few of your posts, I see very little that would keep you happy. But to answer your point: Eh? Are you barmy?? I AM a local government officer, and I never stop asking where my money is being spent. FOIs from the comfort of home are reasonably easy, even for the greatest curmudgeon. I’ll come back to waste disposal shortly.

    And to continue:
    “I expect the council to demonstrate its value.”

    …which they will or won’t do, depending on the answer they give when you ask. What do you want? Do you want accounts? Don’t they (mostly) post them on their sites? Don’t they all have websites? Don’t they all (mostly) post minutes? Won’t they all respond to FOIs? (having issued more than a few, yes they do, markedly better so than Big Brother in Belfast). How do you want to be told? Have you decided yet? Then TELL them what you want. Ask a councillor to GET you the answer.

    “That’s an argument they address by posting a rather glossy and expensively-produced magazine through the door once every quarter.”

    And if we didn’t, I ASSURE you, I absolutely assure you, from recent experience of when we pulled such a publication, the cry comes “why aren’t we getting our magazine?”

    “Most of the content is about how to use your bin effectively….”

    And why, Comrade? The fine for excessive tonnage to landfill is rising. When punters don’t use the bins correctly, councils get fined and you pay more rates.

    This is so simple, it’s fundamental – and yet you have no idea how many tonnes of waste which could be recycled or composted or whatever end up costing you money. That’s the reason why Waste Disposal 101 is in those mags – which are recyclable, by the way.

    To add, this from your own Council’s site – people in Newtownabbey dumped the equivalent weight of 41,000 cars in landfill last year. Stop chucking stuff and it won’t cost you as much to clean up. Councils spent £34m last year, clearing up the shit that punters leave behind on the streets – JUST the streets. They clean beaches, forest parks, community areas, etc, too. Take it fucking home with you and it won’t cost you as much.

    “….the work of the DPP (centrally funded)…”

    Take it up with DPPs. They’ll take any avenue to get you to their excessively expensive public meetings that no-one comes to. Disband the lot, I say. Waste of money. Thankfully, it’s Central Government’s, not ours.

    “…tourism (which you’re saying is also centrally funded)…”

    No. I didn’t. Tourist information centres are largely funded by NITB. Councils put in tourism development money because NITB focus on five signature projects and nothing else. And THAT money, from your rates, more than usually gets augmented by lots of money drawn in from elsewhere.

    “….and leisure centres (council funded – but I don’t understand why!).”

    …which you don’t use, but other people – poor people for example – do. I’d privatise the lot of them in a flash, but the public wouldn’t agree. Raise it with your local councillors – see, I said councillors there – and see what the response is.

    “As for this “save a tenner on the rates but cut loads” thing…..”

    Yeah but you selectively missed the point I was making in the context of how I made it. I was referring to a point on economic development, which is probably – if even – one job per most councils. Cut THAT and you might get a few pence back. But you miss out on much more.

    Problem is, a lot of people – not all – on here – don’t use the services that a council provides. But it is only when the threat to pull it comes that the hue and cry ensues – the leisure centre, the community centre, the arts funding, the community festival, the number of bin collections, and so on.

    Similarly when stuff goes right, no one pays any attention. Plus ca change and so forth.

    I recently had an incredibly frustrating time with an insurance company – one of those awful private sector things. Some of my colleagues recently had to take an engineering company to task for dumping oil illegally in one of those annoying freshwater stream things, och you know what I mean, one of those useless things that “wildlife” lives in. And banks? Don’t get me started.

    Terrible private sector. Can I get them all fired/closed, please? Anyone want to start a thread?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sammy
    That would depend upon the actual boundaries being resolved, and subsequently on how the DEAs shape up when devised.

    Going on the basis of the existing boundaries it’s still hard to see where the nationalist gain will be made- having said that, we can’t really operate on the basis of the existing boundaries due to the fact that the wards have already been changed- for instance, the Court DEA (Shankill) used to consist of 5 unionist wards.

    Even if Poots gets his way and there are elections to existing councils, Court can’t proceed ‘as was’ due to the fact that it now has only 4 wards, and legislation states DEAs must have between 5 and 7 wards in them.

    To put it bluntly, a mess awaits the Minister’s (non) decision.

  • Local Government Officer

    What am I? Your local government bee-atch? Check out the 1972 Local Government Act, and then visit a council website.

    Sheesh…the nerve of some people. 😉

  • Framer

    The council jobsworths have so many restrictive practices that the chances of any rubbish being removed unless parcelled up in the exact measurements are slim, whatever council arrangements are put in place.

    But I would welcome the abandonment of the 11 councils if for no other reason than it would scrap the DUP absurdity of Lisburn/Castlereagh which was designed to create a Prod heavy council where DUP cultists could strut their stuff in the belief that the rest of the world did not exist.

  • Ballyboy

    Good point about Lisburn/Castlereagh, Framer. I do think a lot of the proposed council mergers make little sense apart from trying to get as many prods/taigs into one council as possible e.g. the ridiculously shaped merger of Down and Newry & Mourne that stretches from Crossmaglen to Saintfield, designed to ensure the mainly nationalist SE of NI is included in one council. Sth Armagh more naturally fits with the rest of Armagh but tribal considerations mean that Portadown, Tandragee etc. get lumped in with Banbridge.

  • Chris,

    I’m not sure that that is automatically the case. The existing electoral areas (both for Council and Westminster/Assembly) are drawn up on the basis of the ward boundaries drawn in 1991. The five wards in the Court DEA therefore still exist for electoral purposes. It seems pretty clear that the four wards proposed by the RPA process will never now come into legal force.

    It’s certainly true that even by 2005 the Court DEA had only 13582 voters out of 166824 for Belfast as a whole, on a fair allocation of 51 seats across the city would have given it only four seats rather than five even then. Likewise Upper Falls, established as a five-seater, had enough electors to qualify for six seats if the seats were allocated proportionate to 2005 voters rather than more or less to 1991 figures.

    So one option open to Poots is to reallocate the seat distribution, for this election only, as was done in the 1982 Assembly election. The other is to leave matters be. Both are problematic.

  • Munsterview

    Local G.O.

    Good explanations, very easy to blame messenger and message alike. Good to see things answered in an intelligent and articulate way. Just shows like down here that there are plenty Local Government Officers in position who know what needs to be done and how to do it, if they get the means to do so.

    Please keep up your postings they are enlightening!

  • slug

    The Ballymena-Larne-Carrickfergus merger made NO sense.

    Carrick and Larne go together but Ballymena does not connect well to them.

    Hopefully the whole thing can be re-done.

  • Local Government Officer

    Cheers, Munsterview – thankfully threads like this don’t come up TOO often.

    Bit disappointed at some of the other LGOs that I know are on here, though. Thought they might have weighed in before me!

  • Local Government Officer

    Slug, I think it was a population thing – target pops were to be around 120k, if memory serves me correctly, and I will happily be corrected on that. It’s been so long since the whole idea came up.

    Also I think they were heading for one regional centre-ish sort of town per area, and given that to the north of them, Coleraine will be the biggest between Limavady, Moyle and Ballymoney…well…work it out.

    Besides – I don’t think any of the four to the north wanted to be in with B’mena either. Or its debt. 🙂

    Just one more thing to the casual observer. If anyone were to ask me, seeing as there’s no other LGOs about, if I would have preferred 7 or 11, I’d go for 11.

    We’re very parochial here as a people. It’ll never change. I know this isn’t the most economically-sound argument but 11 leaves a wee bit of a semblance of the “local” in “local government”. Simple as.

    Now if they were going to be serious and give us health, education, roads, housing (heaven forbid), etc…I could be persuaded to change my opinion. 🙂

  • Local Government Officer

    “The council jobsworths have so many restrictive practices that the chances of any rubbish being removed unless parcelled up in the exact measurements are slim, whatever council arrangements are put in place.”

    Happy to hear what those are.

    Unless you’re gurning about leaving the bin to the bottom of the drive, in which case, most councils do “assisted lifts”, so ring them, tell them you’ve some sort of disability, and they’ll get it for you.

    Otherwise see my post above…and stop bunging so much shite in your bin. It’ll save on your rates too. 🙂

  • Munsterview

    Same at this end as regards ‘my own weighing in’ Enough of us, my self included, spend enough time banned from the airways and media that I would have thought many more Republicans would regularly avail of forums like this to air opinions and articulate their viewpoints.

    As a historian I know how important views on these type of sites will be to future researchers. As it is I regularly attend History seminars and I am no longer surprised at how far removed from reality a lot of Post Grads. ‘findings’ on events of the early seventies are, and this before vested interests try and ‘orientate’ this research towards a particular viewpoint.

  • Atypical Borough Council has six main departments,

    Chief Executive Department

    Leisure Services
    This includes recreation, parks and open spaces, sports development, conservation service, Museum service and arts development.

    Environmental Services
    This includes environmental health, technical services, energy conservation, health and safety, sustainability/local agenda 21, public services liaison.

    Development
    Economic Development, community services and development, tourism development, borough marketing, community relations, local partnerships, borough vision, area plan, community safety, new initiatives.

    Building Control
    The Building Control Department administers the Building Regulations in order to secure the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people in the built environment and to conserve fuel and power.

    Corporate Services
    Services include financial services, Civic & Conference Centre management, land and property matters, registration of Births deaths and marriages, Corporate Special Projects, Communications, and information technology.

    I remember once , say ten years ago, applying for a job at Craigavon and going along at lunch time to hand in the application form. The entire civic centre off the Rushmere shopping centre roundabout was closed for lunch. Between them they couldn’t organise one person to sit behind a desk in reception and deal with the public. Over the next few lunch times I rang most local councils and virtually all of them closed for lunch. I never did anything with the information. I suppose it has changed now. Anybody been to Craigavon at lunch time recently?

  • unionistvoter

    Actually this was part of the problem new DEA’s had to be created across Northern Ireland and effectively there now is no time left.

    Other issues included the Dunmurray salient (Poots’ wishful thinking) which no one else would accept so he spat the dummy

    No time left to prepare for the collection of next years rates bills on the new boundaries

    and the mythical savings from PwC which neither they nor the Minister could stand over though Poots wanted local government to guarentee the savings even though he wasn’t sure if tehy could be made

    all in all Poots made a hash of it

  • “Council workers/councillors have had virtually no say in this.”

    Really? Certainly no formal say in it, but I doubt that anyone could characterise either NILGA or the NAC as being bodies that are rushing to problem-solve in the public interest?

    Are you seriously saying that the people at the top of individual local authorities have been completely co-operative and unterritorial about this?

  • Oh – and on your ‘terrible private sector – can I get them all fired / closed please?’ question, I’m with you on that one. My point is the *comparative* level of inertia / obstruction / gamesmanship in Northern Ireland in comparison to elsewhere in the UK (and if I knew enough about it, perhaps the Irish Republic as well).

    It’s not just people directly employed in local government either. I would be very interested to see the results in a 360-degree appraisal if the DOENI were to ever be suicidal enough to conduct one.

    One other thing: I think that Munsterview’s point about decentralisation is a very good one.

  • Munsterview

    Articles,

    Back to France again; I know of a situation where a person got a flat tyre after hitting a pothole in their Local Road to a remote community, the Mayor was contacted around 6.45 PM at home and he was told where it was. Less than an hour later he called back, it had been inspected by him, taped off with reflective bands and was filled in and repaired the following afternoon.

    Thousands are employed by the Health Boards in the South in Emergency Child Care services…….. 9 AM to 5 PM…… Monday to Friday, and of course closed for lunch I PM to 2 PM.

    This means that only seven hours each day or thirty five hours a week are covered, problems arise 24/7 and especially at weekends. When allowing for bank holidays, training days, sick days etc only around 1,700 hours of the 8,736 are covered. As to the other 7,000 simple, if a child has to be taken off the street they are held in a police cell if noting else is available until the system groans back to life on Monday morning!

    The police Reps complain, the incident makes the media, the District Court Child Court judge will express his displeasure, questions will be asked of the Health Minister who will promise change while expecting those on the ground to continually provide more services with less resources and so the circus goes on and has done for the last forty years virtually unchanged as the extent of the problem is always greater than the resources allocated.

    If they can get away with providing this standard of service in a most vulnerable area, then what the hell’s chance is there of getting a Pothole complained of outside of office hours, much less inspected or fixed ?.

    I do not know how much better ( if they are ) weekend services in areas like Child Care are in the North but North and South generally we need wherever possible small localized point of contact delivered services where if there is an overlap then ‘ Jim and Joan’ can go down the corridor to one or the other’s office and have a five minute meeting, not schedule a case conference in a weeks time or whatever to agree who do what and have an even greater delay and tie up even more resources in dealing with the problem.

    I know dozens of women working in part-time rural community care for the elderly. They arrange cover among themselves and I have known situations where, if the cared for person is not well, not alone do that person have his own carers calling but also other such local workers dropping in.

    Much of this work is not in regular hours, many hours are given voluntary that are not even paid for and yet this Community Home Care is one area targeted for even more spending cuts as heartless suits know that they can rely on Community Care workers giving even more of their free time. These same top tier suits and decision makers refused to take a pay cut like the rest of their lower paid civil servant colleagues.

    If we can have a more decentralized, localized, point of contact service with smaller units dealing with smaller areas then there will be the same sense of community that the Carers are such excellent examples of. We badly need it North and South.

  • All good stuff Munsterview. And it’s certainly true anywhere that individual local government officers and councillors also are flexible, pragmatic and caring about their local environment. I’m sure that Local Government Officer can come up with a few examples.

    But, again, it’s a question of comparison. The usually-annoying Simon Jenkins nailed the problem here a while ago:

    “The French ratio of voters to elected officials is 120:1. In Britain it is more like 2,600:1. The overwhelming majority of Europeans can name their local mayor or another official whom they can hold to account for most of their public services. In Britain the only representative people can begin to name is their MP, and barely half can do that. Britain is democracy-lite.”

    The exercise in RPA to reduce the number of local authorities makes sense to me. The exercise to reduce the number of elected representatives is another matter entirely. It’s a demand that is music to the ears of the incoming Tory government who want to reduce the number of MPs for the same reason.

    There is a populist anti-politics mood in the air and reducing them (without reducing the firepower of those institutions that rival elected politicians – business and bureaucratic lobbies, etc) plays into it in a very damaging way.

  • Munsterview

    Up here there is an out of hours social work service which includes child care. Very rarely would a child end up in a police cell, perhaps if he or she was picked up at five in the morning.

  • Local Government Officer

    I’m saying to you that yes, we saw a fait accompli. MOST, as my original post said, saw it as an opportunity for change. We certainly see it as a chance to get rid of much of the deadwood that has got themselves into a cushy number and won’t make way for many of the new up-and-coming squad.

    Whether you believe that or not is another matter, but I have no axe to grind on this. And what have territories got to do with it? Other than the 7 model being far too wide-ranging, with not ENOUGH powers being devolved, they are neither here nor there. The Boundaries people put out models for consultation, the politicos at the very top – not at Council level – decided for various political and sectarian reasons to go for 11. Fait accompli. NILGA put in their response just like the 26 Councils did. What happened after that, wasn’t up to them or anyone else.

    I’ll state it again – MOST of us are glad to see it happen. Most of us know of at least two or three areas of work that should be devolved that we can do better at local level. For example: why the hell are Land & Property Services still “doing” rates? Why does that not lie with Councils?

    We don’t really want health or education. But there’s plenty left that could equally be devolved down.

  • braniel unionist

    well, may i be first to announce my candidature in the 2011 local government elections when i will be standing in castlereagh central on the following platform; ‘SUPPORT THE ULSTER HOSPITAL’

  • braniel unionist

    ok then, may i be first to announce my candidature in the 2011 local government elections when i will be standing in castlereagh central on the following platform; ‘SUPPORT THE ULSTER HOSPITAL’

  • bigbadjohn

    18million now you know maybe we need a few more mlas not less

  • Jay

    I you cant work the forum , I doubt you’d be able to fill in the necessary paperwork.

  • braniel unionist

    support the ulster hospital………save the NHS!

  • braniel unionist

    support the ulster hospital…………save the NHS!

  • braniel unionist

    ……..vote labour AND unionist!