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Anger at rejection of Local Area Committees initiative

10 June, 2008

Down District Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke has criticised SDLP councillors who, with the support of Jim Wells, voted to block the formation of structured Local Area Committees during the sitting of a special Council meeting on June 2nd.

Cllr Clarke MLA said:

"There was a recommendation from Council Officers that four Local Area Committees be set up for Newcastle, Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Rowallane which would allow local Councillors to oversee the provision of all Council services within their area.

"The logic behind these committees is that they would meet regularly to review Council services; engage with public and voluntary sector organisations at local level, and develop, implement, monitor and evaluate community action plans again at local level.

"I find it incredible that the SDLP, along with Cllr Wells, voted against an initiative that is potentially one of the most significant changes in Council policy in recent times. In my view, these changes would have improved the delivery of essential services that are vital in the run up to this Council's merger with Newry and Mourne in 2011.

"It runs totally contrary to the position the SDLP argued during the debate about the Review of Public Administration about councils becoming distant from local communities. This initiative would have brought local government closer to local people.

"As Councillors we all work on various projects; we write too and lobby various agencies and we work on individual cases, but there is so much more that could be achieved for our constituents if we were more willing to work together through properly structured area committees." ENDS

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