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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 07:57 GMT
Plan opposing council move passed
Sir Reg Empey opposes government's council plans
Sir Reg Empey opposes government's council plans
Belfast city councillors have backed a proposal to oppose government plans to reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland from 26 to seven.

The motion was put forward by the Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey and passed by a vote of 26 to 12. Only Sinn Fein councillors opposed it.

Sir Reg said that there was no political support for the scheme.

"I think the secretary of state just can't ignore the views of all the parties," he said.

The government announced it was reducing the number of councils from 26 to seven in November of last year.

It predicted 200m a year savings through the plan which is expected to be implemented over four years.

Sir Reg said that the government had been quick to list what it said were the advantages of the changes, but not so quick to list what the cost of implementing it would be.

"We're all for efficiency, we're all for reducing the number pf councils, but there has to be a balance and that's the one thing missing from these proposals," he said.

"At the end of the day we are people who work in local government, so we know quite a lot about it and I have to say the secretary of state doesn't.

"I think that many of the people who are coming up with these ideas have absolutely no hands-on experience of local government whatsoever."

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