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Local Government Reform Programme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:45 pm on 20th October 2009.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 4:45 pm, 20th October 2009

I paid a sincere tribute to the three waste management organisations that have delivered since they were established. We have been operating under a 26-council model. It would have been impossible for 26 councils to feed into a single waste authority, but it is possible for 11 councils to do that, and to do so reasonably. Members have heard a fair degree of criticism over the past weeks about how much we spend on consultants, for example. We have three waste authorities, and each of those has had to buy in expertise from consultants. If the costs incurred by one of those authorities are multiplied by three, one will see the total cost to the public. Therefore, it is common sense to opt for a single waste disposal authority, with one procurement exercise and one management body. I recognise the fears that have been expressed by the Member, but, in establishing a single waste disposal authority, it is important that there is local influence and buy-in and that local areas are involved in the implementation of local decision-making processes that are right for the local area. Waste does not travel, and, for the most part, it has to be dealt with locally.

In establishing a regional authority rather than a subregional authority, let us not move away from a model that provides a strong local influence to the outcomes. I am happy to discuss the issue with the Committee for the Environment or with Members. It is imperative that we get the right model, which delivers for taxpayers and ratepayers, and one which provides waste solutions locally.