Magazine article Public Finance

Northern Ireland Faces Cull of Councils and Quangos

Magazine article Public Finance

Northern Ireland Faces Cull of Councils and Quangos

Article excerpt

District councils in Northern Ireland could be reduced from 26 to seven and given new legal powers under proposals published by the Review of Public Administration.

All five education and library boards would be scrapped under the plans, to be replaced by a single education services support body answering directly to the Department of Education.

Three options are proposed for the future service structure, with seven, 11 or 15 district councils. Smaller council areas, such as Carrickfergus or Castlereagh, could be particularly at risk.

The preferred model will depend on public consultation. Research conducted by the RPA found that people identified more strongly with their community than with their council area and were more interested in service improvement and cost containment than preserving smaller district councils.

Ian Pearson, the minister with responsibility for the review, said the proposals marked the 'return to strong local government' in Northern Ireland. …

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