Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has continued his series of meetings with the key council groups driving local government reform.
The minister took part in the meeting of the Causeway Coast and Glens Statutory Transition Committee (STC) which was held at Coleraine Borough Council.
Mr Durkan said: “The STCs are playing a critical role in helping to drive local government reform and prepare for the new 11 councils which will come into being in shadow form after the elections in May.
“This reform programme is a partnership between local and central government and [the Coleraine] meeting provided a beneficial opportunity for us to discuss progress and exchange information.
“Going forward, I will support the changing role of the four existing councils and provide them with a robust and comprehensive legislative and operational framework so that the newly-created Causeway Coast and Glens District Council is open for business in April 2015.
“It’s now less than 400 days until that date, and I have been and continue to visit the other STCs to ensure that this critical transition work is moving at a pace towards delivery – delivery of a more effective, efficient, citizen-centred and responsive system of local government.”
The Minister heard of the progress of the Committee, and he addressed issues on topics including legislation, transferring functions, new council performance targets and budgets.
Welcoming Mr Durkan’s visit, STC Chair, councillor Robert McIlroy said this was a chance to ask questions: “It created an ideal opportunity to discuss questions with him regarding the local government reform process.
“The STC has been leading the work on convergence prescribed in legislation and implementing tasks which are required in preparation for the election of the new council which will initially operate in shadow form.
“Minimising the financial burden upon ratepayers is priority for us and we welcomed the Minister outlining how this would be addressed.”
STCs are responsible for leading convergence between merging councils and undertaking important preparatory work for the new councils that will take over in April 2015.
This includes preparing a draft budget and a draft corporate and business plan for the new councils.
Each is also appointing its Chief Executive. Causeway Coast and Glens STC has recently appointed Mr David Jackson as its new council’s Chief Executive.