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Local Government Reform Programme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:15 pm on 20th October 2009.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 5:15 pm, 20th October 2009

There is certainly a debate to be had on that matter. I have no doubt that local government will make that case, and it will be included in our discussions with the Finance Minister. If the House and the Executive decide that they wish to contribute to the matter, such a decision will be accommodated. However, Members should remember that the review of local government is not about cost savings exclusively; the transfer of functions is a considerable element of the reforms. I believe that the functions proposed for transfer to local government will be better delivered by local government; they will be delivered closer to the people; and that will give the councillors who represent those people greater powers and greater ability to represent the views of constituents at local level.

We have identified that there are significant financial benefits. However, leaving finance to one side, it can be seen that the transfer of powers and functions is of even greater benefit to the local communities. That is a key element that we should never lose sight of. It is one thing to talk about money, but service delivery is the greater prize to be achieved. I encourage all my colleagues to go for the greater prize and to deliver a better service of local government to the local community at a lower cost. I hope that the House is with me on that.