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Council Merger

The on-again-off-again process of merging Newry and Mourne District Council (NMDC) with Down District Council (DDC) appears to be back on track as representatives from both authorities met again last week to welcome legislation laying down the new district’s boundaries. The two councils are set to merge in 2015 as part of the Review of Administration a process that will reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland from 26 to 11. This work was originally scheduled to have been completed in 2011 but ultimately came to nothing. Following last May’s elections the matter was put back on the agenda and last week it was confirmed that the 11 new councils had been established in law. Despite this a number of issues have yet to be resolved notably how the  project will be paid for. In spite of this uncertainty NMDC and DDC are playing their part with a statement last week outlining that a transition committee had met to discuss the creation of the new 41 seat council which will stretch from Saintfield to Cullaville. In a statement the joint chairs of the transition committee Cllr Michael Ruane (NMDC) and Cllr Michael Coogan (DDC) called on the Assembly to provide more details of how the process will be implemented. According to Cllr Ruane: “The RPA provides a golden opportunity to transform the lives of local people, but we also recognize that with any change comes the fear that local jobs and services will be lost. We welcome the recent announcement on the new council boundary but call on the NI Executive to provide more clarity on what is planned.” Cllr Coogan reinforced these sentiments identifying areas that require clarification. “In particular the specific package of new powers will be given to us in 2015 and the essential funding that is required to ensure local ratepayers do not bear the financial burden. For too long there has been too much uncertainty for local ratepayers and local staff.”


Newry Reporter

11th July 2012