Page last updated at 06:22 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 07:22 UK

Supercouncils plan 'to go ahead'


Plans to cut the number of NI councils from 26 to 11 should go ahead, Stormont Minister Edwin Poots has said.

It emerged last week more than £90m has so far been spent on the Review of Public Administration, which also includes health and education reform.

Mr Poots told the assembly the process of cutting councils would cost an extra £118m over a five-year period.

However, the environment minister added that this would mean savings of £438m could be made over 25 years.

He said the plans, which include centralised waste and corporate services, were on course to take effect in 2011.

The waste disposal authority will take over from three groups working at present and will work to meet EU recycling targets and avoid fines of £500,000 a day.

Mr Poots said his department had the "political will" to see the reforms through to completion.

"I want to demonstrate that if we make the right political choices on the detailed design of new local government, that proceeding with local government reform makes absolute sense in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money," he said.

Local councillors will receive an £18-20,000 pay-off as part of the deal while there will be a separate package for staff who are paid off, Mr Poots said.

"Many of them have provided services to the public virtually free of charge all their lives and what is being asked here is a very modest sum," he said.

Chair of the environment committee at Stormont, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly, claimed it was unclear where the funding for the reform would come from.

"Questions do remain whether we can afford the RPA at this stage," she said.

Proposed council boundaries
The 26 councils will be amalgamated into 11 bigger areas

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