Unionists eye top seat on the council

Councillors at Banbridge District Council are set to elect Seamus Doyle as their new Chairman this week - but there may be a bump in the road.

The council will hold their annual meeting this Friday afternoon where the SDLP are due to be handed the office.

That is because of the D’Hondt system which is set up to determine which party takes the chair and when.

If elected Councillor Doyle would be the final Chairman of Banbridge District Council as it currently stands.

Elections for the new ‘supercouncil’, when Banbridge merges with Armagh City Council and Craigavon Borough Council under RPA, are expected to take place in June 2014 with the new councillors sitting in ‘shadow’ format until they formally take office in April 2015.

However, the Leader understands that the Ulster Unionists are keen to take the chain of office for the final year of the current term.

To do that would mean a break away from the current system - and that could cause ructions at Friday’s meeting.

The UUP last held the office during the civic year of 2011-12 when Joan Baird was Chairman and Carol Black was vice-Chair.

It is understood that Councillor Black is one of the frontrunners to challenge Councillor Doyle for the office.

The Leader attempted to contact Councillor Black on Monday afternoon ahead of going to press but she was unavailable.

With the exception of the 2005-2011 term the UUP have been the council’s largest party, and so for that reason they may feel that they should have the Chairman’s seat.