Hearty to represent SF in merger of Councils’ finances

September 16, 2013

Crossmaglen Councillor Terry Hearty has been appointed by his Sinn Fein colleagues on Newry and Mourne and Down District Councils to represent them on a finance working group which will oversee the amalgamation of the two councils’ finances as part of the Review of Public Administration (RPA).

Following his appointment, Councillor Hearty said he intends make every effort to ensure the amalgamation puts as little burden on the ratepayer as possible.

“This is a huge task so there is a lot of work to be done to get a full picture of the finances of both councils,” he said.

“It’s imperative that this task is carried out with the greatest attention to detail, especially when you consider that issues like fixed assets, outstanding loans and the capital spend over the next few years will dictate future rates.

“There are considerable costs with RPA.  Not only will the amalgamation of the Councils itself bring challenges but even after its successful completion, the new Council will have additional responsibilities.  For example, planning powers and other powers that previously lay with central government departments will be transferred to the new Newry, Mourne and Down Council, which will have to deliver these services and cover the cost of their delivery,” he explained.

Councillor Hearty added that there were difficult decisions ahead but that the finance working group would make them in the best interests of the people of both districts.

“When you consider that Newry and Mourne Council employs more than 420 people in full-time positions and Down District Council employs 330 full-time staff, not to mention the part-time or seasonal workers, it gives you an idea of the scale of the challenge facing us,” he said.

“Both councils are working well together and while there are tough decisions to be made we will make them with the aim of ensuring that the amalgamation has as little affect as possible on rate payers.  This is interesting and challenging work.  I want to thank my party colleagues for appointing me to this vital and historical task.”