Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Council elections being postponed

A ballot box
The local council elections are being put back

Northern Ireland's next local government elections are being postponed by a year, the government has said.

NIO minister Paul Goggins said that the delay was at the request of the devolved Stormont administration.

Council elections were due to be held next year, but will now be delayed until 2011 to reflect the new local government structure.

Northern Ireland's local councils are to be reduced from 26 to 11 by then.

Last April former Environment Minister Arlene Foster requested the delay to the elections.

Mr Goggins said the decision made sense.

"A decision to delay elections is never taken lightly, but Parliament's decision to delay the next local council elections until 2011 makes practical sense and it will ensure the smooth transition and bedding in of the reduction of 26 to 11 local councils in Northern Ireland," he said.

The move was debated in committee last month and approved by the Privy Council this week.

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