Friday, 14 May 2010

Super councils grounded

IS it a bird, is it a it’s a SUPERCOUNCIL. Leaping obstacles of bureaucracy in a single bound, laser like eyes spying out inefficiencies, your local friendly Super Council is here to make sure you get the services you need when you need them; a lean, mean, serving the ratepayer machine.

Well that was the plan. Northern Ireland’s existing 26 local councils were to be slashed down to a manageable 11 new ‘super’ councils, but it seems that they may not be in place for the May 2011 local government elections.

The existing councils can’t agree with the Department of the Environment over plans for a single body to manage back office functions and the DUP and Sinn Féin appear to be haggling over boundaries.

So another plank of the Review of Public Administration (RPA) falls by the wayside, along with the much-vaunted Education and Skills Authority.

The RPA, complete with its staff and remit now have existed almost as long as some councillors have held seats – and in many cases longer.

Reports last year variously put the cost of the RPA at between £90m and £120m since 2002, but while staff try and come up with solutions and juggle boundaries and terms that are arcane to the rest of the population (co-terminosity anyone?) there develop yet more logjams across departments.

It is improbable that the Executive would let this roll on any longer; but hey, don’t despair because it is the Northern Ireland Executive where decisions can take on glacial speed on a good day; where Executive members regularly congratulate themselves for actually making it into the same room, let alone making a decision.

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