Environment Committee Proposes Changes to Local Government Bill
Date: Monday, 03 March 2014
Reference: ENV 04/13/14
The Committee for the Environment has today published its report on the Local Government Bill, which will make significant changes to how local government will operate, including the introduction of new governance arrangements. The Committee's report has made a number of key recommendations.
Committee Chairperson Anna Lo said: "Over the past months, the Committee has closely examined the Bill to see what it will mean in practice for the new 'super councils'. While we are broadly supportive of the provisions of the Bill, we have flagged up a number of concerns. The Committee is recommending that the Department gives careful consideration to the procedures for investigating complaints against councillors, particularly in the pre-election period; that it provides clarity around the allocation of positions of responsibility on a council, and the new role of the mayor and deputy mayor; and that it issues clear guidelines for the use of the "call-in" procedure for initiating reconsideration of council decisions.
Ms Lo continued: "A key aspect of the Committee's consideration was the introduction of community planning, which aims to give communities a central role in informing decision-making in local government. We feel strongly that councils must involve the community and voluntary sector in community planning as an integral part of the process, and we welcome the Minister's assurance that this role will be clearly specified in statutory guidance. The Committee also believes that real and committed engagement on the part of statutory agencies is crucial if community planning is to be a success.
Ms Lo concluded: "The work does not stop with the introduction of the Bill. So much of the detail of the Bill will be in the regulations and guidance that flow from it. It is therefore crucial that these regulations and guidance are timely and subject to a rigorous consultation process. The Committee will, of course, make them a key priority in the time ahead."
Notes to Editors:
The full Committee report is available here.
The Local Government Bill can be found here.
Ms Anna Lo MLA (Chairperson)
Ms Pam Cameron MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mr Colum Eastwood MLA
Mr Tom Elliott MLA
Mr Ian McCrea MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr Ian Milne MLA
Lord Morrow MLA
Mr Peter Weir MLA