Reacting to the NI Finances written statement by the NI Secretary of State in the House of Commons, Alderman Arnold Hatch, President of NILGA said today:
“It’s hugely disappointing that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has to do this job in Parliament in the absence of the NI Executive and Assembly. The increasing disconnect between people here and the management of our finances and public services is embarrassing and presents local people here with an unsustainable, democratic deficit.
“This creep towards direct rule can be turned around through a concerted effort to devolve the appropriate level of governance, resources and services to local councils. NILGA’s policy and strategic work on this is clear, diligent and ready to implement.”
“We need urgent engagement with Secretary of State James Brokenshire and political leaders of NILGA and our councils so that outcomes for local people are front and centre of future plans – not via written statements in the House of Commons.”
Derek McCallan, NILGA’s Chief Executive, added:
“As Scotland and Wales move forward with material proposals on Brexit and a politically governed Programme for Government and budget, we are being left behind. Instead, our affairs are being nursed by civil servants. Councils were proposed as being crucial to this piece before the Assembly collapsed. It’s time that they are given real powers and real resources to do what they do in all neighbouring areas, as well as solve this widening democratic gap before we are faced with a real mess. There isn’t time for political niceties any more. The country needs strong local democracy and it can get this in an instance if councils are formally asked as mature, progressive institutions to be a key and substantial part of the solution”.