ON 5 May 2011, Northern Ireland will go to the polls – three polls to be precise!
We will get a chance to put our 1-2-3 beside the names of hopeful MLAs, our 1-2-3 beside names of hopeful councillors and a yes or no for the Alternative Voting system.
Of course, we’re now voting for 26 councils, as opposed to the 11 that there was meant to be under the Review of Public Administration here.
This started the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots thinking... You see each council nominated to a Transition Committee to ease the path to reducing the number of local government bodies.
There were 11 such committees, costing about £150,000 each.
By the stroke of a pen they have now been abolished, saving a healthy £1.65m. And, of course with no prospect of there being a reduction in council numbers over the next four or so years, there’s really no need for the committees anyway.
But, we hope that the Minister makes sure his officials keep all the work of the committees on file, so that in a couple of years time they won’t need to start all over again…
In the meantime the councils say that it is the minister’s fault that the reforms haven’t happened and the Minister is saying that the Executive remains committed to reform of local government.