At the recent AGM of the National Association of Councillors ( NAC ) – Northern Ireland Region – Ards and North Down Councillor Joe Boyle has been re-appointed as Secretary of the organisation, responsible for addressing the needs and concerns of 462 Councillors from across the 11 Councils involved with Local Government in the North.
He said: “At the AGM held in Cookstown I was proposed for the position of secretary and it was unanimously agreed upon by those in attendance from all Councils representing all political parties to continue to lead the organisation through the transition period involving the biggest change within local government in the past 40 years.
“It is an honour to have those elected members presen in total agreement with my re-appointment as Secretary to what can be, at times, a challenging position addressing and dealing with issues and concerns presented to me from Councillors.
“Having been Secretary for the past two years I can say that it has certainly been a challenging period for our members who experienced the Review of Public Administration ( RPA ) which included the reduction from 26 Council’s to 11, the introduction of Planning powers to Councillors within their respective Council’s along with the introduction of the new 36 page document Code of Conduct.”
Councillor Boyle added: “Whilst we would have updates from our counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales all making up the UK NAC we have also have had contact in the past with our counterparts in the Republic of Ireland with reference to their Local Authorities Members Association ( LAMA ), and we as an organisation are keen to once again re-establish those links where examples of processes and methods applied can be discussed and compared with the view to implementing best practice.’
“There continues to be significant challenges ahead for elected members delivering for their constituents a high level of service at the lowest possible cost involving the issuing of future rate bills. There is no doubt in my mind that all elected members are committed to that.
“The difficulty and challenge in currently implementing this approach is going to be trying to sustain this service with less funding from central government involving our block grant which will see significant reductions during the next number of years.
“We also need our devolved government involving our Executive and Assembly back up and operating as from within this the local Minister for Communities is responsible for local government incorporating the 11 Council’s.
“As an organisation we need a local Minister in place who is accessible to raise our concerns with – something that would ultimately benefit everyone in our society.”