Government Bill ‘more effective’

NI21 South Down MLA John McCallister has welcomed support in the Assembly for a number of his party’s amendments to the Local Government Bill.

Mr McCallister said the amendments will ultimately make new Councils more democratic, efficient and effective.

“The Assembly debate on Tuesday will have big implications on some of the changes that will be expected in the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.”

Explaining exactly what this means, Mr McCallister said: “These amendments will result in better governance arrangements ensuring proper scrutiny if we move to an executive style of council – meaning members couldn’t serve on an Executive committee and a Scrutiny committee meaning a proper example of an opposition government model.”

He added: “We have ensured there will be a clear separation between the executive arm of new councils and their scrutiny committees.

“Up to this point members of a council’s executive could also sit on committees tasked with holding it to account, creating clear conflicts of interest.

“A clear separation of the executive arm of government and the scrutinising arm of government is a basic principle of democracy, which we have successfully upheld for local in Northern Ireland – local communities will be able to better hold their councils to account.

“Yet, there is still a real danger that we will devolve the dysfunctionality of the Northern Ireland Assembly to our new councils.

“They must be as open, transparent and effective as possible.”