Assembly continues debate of Local Government Bill

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MLAs continued their debate on the further consideration stage of the Local Government Bill, on 1 April 2014.

The third group of amendments concerned governance and decision-making in the 11 new councils.

Anna Lo of Alliance proposed her party's amendment calling for council executive arrangements to be taken by qualified-majority voting.

She said this was to protect the interests of minorities.

The DUP's Pam Cameron objected to the Green party amendment calling for councils to be able to use multi-option referendums to take decisions.

Cathal Boylan of Sinn Fein backed the Alliance amendment on the use of qualified-majority voting.

The SDLP's Colum Eastwood said the Alliance amendment was "kind of pointless" as the matter was dealt with elsewhere in the bill.

Peter Weir of the DUP said the Green amendment proposed a secret ballot and would be "an ideal opportunity for people to hide behind decisions".

Steven Agnew of the Green party said that perhaps he should have given members a better explanation of his amendment before the debate.

"It is giving councils an option," he said.

"I appreciate there isn't consensus on this issue," the North Down MLA concluded.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott introduced his party's amendments concerned with the proposed "call back" system for contentious decisions.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan was opposed to the Alliance amendment on qualified-majority voting as it was "unnecessary".

The Alliance amendment was carried on an oral vote.

Three NI21 amendments concerned with scrutiny committees were carried.

The Green party "preferendum" amendment was defeated as were two Ulster Unionist amendments.

Part five of this debate can be viewed here.

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