Attwood challenged over RPA U-turn
Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has accused the SDLP Environment Minister Alex Attwood of ignoring his own party policy on the RPA and being deliberately obstructive as he attempts to increase the number of local councils from the agreed 11 to 15.
Mr Maskey said:
“Since the outset of the RPA process we have been on the record time and again stating we were in favour of a significant reduction in local councils and local councillors, particularly now in the climate of a functioning Assembly and difficult economic times.
“Our preference was to cut local councils back to seven. Other parties for their own reasons many of them about little more than protecting their own members positions had different views. The compromise reached was for an eleven council model. This would see a reduction in councillors and a reduction in allowances and expenses. It would also see greater efficiencies and a better service for the public. This is I believe a welcome move and one supported by the vast majority of rate payers here. Indeed the SDLP themselves in their own Programme for Government 2011 document published earlier this year demanded an eleven council model.
“Now at the eleventh hour Alex Attwood has stood his own party policy on its head and adopted a deliberately obstructive position as he attempts to increase the number of councils from the agreed 11 to 15.
“Alex Attwood needs to come out and explain to hard pressed rate payers and explain to the other parties this political U turn and the rationale behind it. The SDLP leadership also need to make their position clear. This was after all the document that they went to the electorate with in May.”
Note: In the SDLP Programme for Government 2011 document published on 7th April 2011 stated in the section ‘Downsizing Stormont’ -Implementing RPA with an 11 Council model with greatly enhanced functions