Local council reform plans collapse

A shakeup of the north’s local councils has collapsed after the Six-County executive failed to reach agreement .

The executive meeting had discussed plans to cut the number of councils from 26 to 11 by next May.

However, the lack of agreement on the far-reaching proposals means there will be no change to local government.

Critics of the executive have said this week’s collapse as another example of its failure to deal with key issues.

Sinn Fein had wanted the 11-council model to go ahead but environment minister Edwin Poots wanted the plans to be deferred until 2015.

The motion to reform was put to a vote after talks on Friday and over the weekend to resolve the parties’ differences failed.

Only ministers who are not also councillors were allowed to vote.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance’s David Ford voted in favour of pushing the reforms through, giving them a majority of five to three.

However, the plans collapsed after DUP’s enterprise minister Arlene Foster called for a ‘cross-community vote’, under which the DUP has a veto over change.

The reforms had proved controversial among unionist politicians as it would have deprived many of them of their valued council positions.

The DUP’s environment minister Edwin Poots attempted to wash his hands of any blame for the failure. He had insisted more time was needed to make the necessary reduction.

Another key issue for the DUP was the boundary of the new Belfast ‘supercouncil’ and specifically the inclusion of the largely nationalist Dunmurry aea which would leave it with a nationalist majority.

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