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Merger Money Meagre! Minister ‘disappointed’ at council reform bid letdown

ENVIRONMENT Minister Alex Attwood has described as “disappointing” a failed bid for funding to help local councils make plans for massive mergers in three years time.

The Minister was speaking when attending a meeting at the Palace in Armagh, where he met with a voluntary transition committee formed to aid the amalgamation of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon into a new ‘super-council’.

Previous moves to implement the findings of the Review of Public Administration – which would see 11 new such local authorities replace the 26 currently in place in Northern Ireland – were temporarily shelved due to lack of finance.

But the Environment Minister assured councillors in Armagh that he would continue to fight for the cash necessary to bring about the most radical changes in local government reform for generations.

Said Mr Attwood: I will continue to argue strongly at a Ministerial level for more resources and councils will need to work through this with me and with each other in the period ahead.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Roy McCartney – who chairs the local VTC – said all shared in the Minister’s disappointment.

But he added: “Over the last few years the councils of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon have continued to work together and are committed to building on this work and making the transition process work for all our staff and citizens.”

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