ASSEMBLY OR NOT – COUNCILS DETERMINED TO MAKE PROGRESS

Published 17 August 2017 @ 15:00

NILGA President, Alderman Arnold Hatch, speaking after yesterday’s All Council Meeting on the Economy, has highlighted the drive witnessed across the 11 councils to make Northern Ireland work for residents, visitors and investors.

Alderman Arnold Hatch said:

“Medium to long term growth plans to improve the region’s infrastructure and sustain our local communities are being dynamically developed and promoted right now, including roads and rural broadband. Also, a new Start a Business Programme effective from September 2017, covering all 11 councils, tailored to the strengths of each local economy, from Coleraine to Carrickfergus, from Belcoo to Belfast, means that if you are an entrepreneur, councils can help.” 
 
But the capacity of councils to deliver on a range of services and investment initiatives remains hampered, however, by the legislative impasse in Stormont. 
 
“NILGA urgently seeks a fast, thorough and clinical review of the administrative, legislative and statutory processes presently frozen because we don’t have a devolved Assembly. These include:
 
legislation necessary to complete local government reform, (furthering a Regeneration Bill, disestablishment of the Local Government Staff Commission, revision of the Councillor Code of Conduct) 
legislation and policy necessary to support business and society (e.g. Social Strategy, Licensing Bill, deregulation of e-bike usage)
establishing budgetary certainty – holding up longer term council investment decisions and increasing pressure on councils to deliver Emergency Planning for issues like flooding, together with contingency funding of voluntary and community organisations, and 
cessation of central-local political meetings designed to assist in the delivery of the Programme for Government and community planning - exacerbating the current democratic deficit. 
 
To those of us in councils, it matters less who takes the initiative in government – we just need to remove a backlog which is hampering our competitiveness” said Alderman Hatch.
 
NILGA has brought together a set of Strategic Partners from across business and civic society, including Colleges NI, the Centre for Effective Services, Stratagem, the Association for Public Services Excellence, Enterprise NI, the Strategic Investment Board, Sustainable NI and the Federation of Small Business. In the coming weeks it will step up its work on developing all council initiatives on key issues including Brexit, Infrastructure Development and Community Planning, in advance of NILGA’s Flagship Local Conference – “Local Enterprise, Global Reach” on 12th October 2017. NILGA Conference.