A “qualified yes” is how the BBC characterised NILGA’s response to the Northern Ireland Environment Minister’s question on funding the reform of local government – or, as NILGA President, Cllr John Mathews, put it, Poots’ “exit strategy”.
But, having seen a copy of the letter containing NILGA’s response to the NI Environment Minister, it’s worth noting that they have made a number of pointed remarks about the NI Executive’s role.
From the letter from NILGA President John Mathews
As I have reiterated in recent letters to you the work taken forward by local government on improvement and collaboration provides a good foundation on which to secure significant efficiencies, to realise citizen expectation of local government service improvements and to contribute to the aim of creating “strong, dynamic local government in Northern Ireland. It is vital that this momentum for change is not lost. That said there are a number of issues outside our area of responsibility but within the remit of the Executive which, must be addressed to allow the reform process to move on.
- Introducing the required legislation for establishing the boundaries for the 11 new district councils and the reorganisation legislation to provide modernised powers for the new councils.
- Resolving the rates convergence issue of amalgamating councils.
- Ensuring the transferring functions result in no additional costs to local government at the point of transfer.
- Ensuring the necessary practical arrangements are in place for example Land and Property Services systems and processes are aligned to the 11 council model.
I would re-emphasise that without the resolution of these issues the reform process cannot move forward. It is the Executive’s responsibility to make the decision on the future of the reform programme for local government. We therefore call on you and your executive colleagues to take these decisions quickly and to provide now the necessary clarity. [added emphasis]