Local seats to be lost in new “super councils” proposals

May 13, 2013

South Armagh will lose 4 of its council seats as part of the upcoming Review of Public Administration (RPA) which will reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland from 26 to 11. The Fews electoral area of Camlough, Bessbrook and Whitecross is expected to merge with an expanded Slieve Gullion area while in each of Newry and Crotlieve areas, one councillor less will be returned.

Newry and Mourne District Council is set to lose 7 of its seats when it merges with Down District Council under the new jurisdictions.  41 councillors will represent a new district stretching from Culloville to Saintfield, which means a reduction of 12 representatives in both existing council chambers, with 7 of those seats lost in the current Newry and Mourne council. The new Newry and Mourne and Down District Council will have the third largest electorate of any of the 11 new “super councils.”

Parties are considering deselecting certain representatives ahead of elections to ensure they get the best possible return in terms of securing votes and the quality of representation subsequently provided.

Some serving councillors are considering not standing for elections  to the new councils  and proposals to offer a substantial golden handshake to long serving representatives who chose to retire could make that prospect all the more attractive to many.

The new councils will have enhanced powers to be transferred from central government in April 2015.  These will include additional input in planning, roads, economic development and tourism.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood, who is delivering the new super councils project said the new powers would help transform the way in which cities, towns and rural areas are planned and sustained, “while boosting our economy and protecting our environment.”

Elections for the new authorities will take place in 2014.