12 November 2005

Warning over cutting councils

Belfast Telegraph

12 November 2005

REDUCTION of the present 26 councils to just seven could cause the "sectarian Balkanisation" of Northern Ireland, the SDLP warned last night.

Just over a week ahead of the expected Government decisions on the review of public administration, the party's annual conference also rejected any proposals to give added powers to local councils under Direct Rule.

Party chairperson Patricia Lewsley warned that the priority must be the return of devolution with direct rule Ministers intent on imposing huge rates increases and water charges.

Today a key motion warns continuing intransigence by the DUP and Sinn Féin is preventing elected representatives from fulfilling their responsibility to improve the provision of Health and Personal Social Services.

Health spokesperson Carmel Hanna will warn against the persistence of waiting lists forcing people to opt to go privately and jeopardising the public service ethos of the NHS.

The South Belfast MLA will hit out at continuing instability and lack of leadership which, the motion says, "has created an unstable environment where it takes too long for decisions to be made and encourages a culture of lack of responsibility-taking".

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