N. Ireland Politics

Super-councils: Regeneration powers to remain with NI Executive

Stormont
Image caption Mr Givan has said regeneration will remain an executive function

The Communities Minister, Paul Givan, has announced that local councils will not get powers for regeneration in their areas.

When the number of councils in Northern Ireland was reduced from 26 to 11, responsibilities such as planning were passed to them by the government.

Mr Givan has said regeneration will remain an executive function.

Alliance leader Naomi Long criticised his decision and said it should be a local government matter.

Image caption Communities Minister Paul Givan said it was about 'getting things done'

"The truth is that they do not want to give this power to local councils and to allow them to get on with their business," she said.

Analysis BBC News NI's Political Editor Mark Devenport

Under the shake up which reduced the number of councils from 26 to 11, the councils were due to get extra responsibility for regeneration.

However, that proposal was put on hold indefinitely in November 2015, when the former minister, Mervyn Storey, decided not to press ahead with his Regeneration Bill.

The current minister, Paul Givan, now says he will not bring forward proposals to extend his department's regeneration powers to councils during this assembly term.

Last week, enhanced powers over regeneration formed a central plank of Belfast City Council's proposed new City Growth Deal.

It's thought council leaders are likely to be disappointed by the minister's decision to keep the responsibility for regeneration schemes within his own department.

"This is another example of the executive wanting to meddle in what is best done at a local level.

"It completely flies in the face of the whole point of reorganising council structures to give councils more power."

Mr Givan said he wanted regeneration to remain with the executive for the time being.

"This was a power which had been discussed in the last mandate," he said.

"There were numerous attempts to bring forward legislation and there wasn't consensus to do that and I'm clear now in this new mandate that I don't want to be involved in tinkering around who gets what, where the budget should be divided, it's about getting things done."

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