As the run-down to the amalgamation of local councils starts this week in earnest, it looks as if Armagh will be the nerve centre of the proposed ABC (Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon) Council.
The STC (Statistic Transition Committee), charged with masterminding the three-in-one move, met this week, and sources close to the committee suggested that Craigavon’s current Civic Centre would become the admin block, while Armagh would be the Mayoral headquarters and Banbridge would be given a leisure services or finance role.
Armagh is keen to retain the Lord Mayor title for new set-up, with Armagh City and District Council having been granted the honour two years ago.
Said current Armagh Lord Mayor Robert Turner, “The title is a wonderful honour for a historic city and we fully deserve it. Armagh is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, and we are keen that the new ABC Council should retain the title of Lord Mayor. The Palace is its natural home.
“Armagh has been a model of sharing power and sharing posts of responsibility, and we are keen that the Civic Centre should be established at The Palace. Of course, Craigavon and Banbridge should have other centres of administration, but Armagh has a very prestigious name.”
One of the first items on the STC agenda will be the post of chief executive, with one chosen to head the new administration. The current three – including Dr Theresa Donaldson of Craigavon – will see their posts made redundant, and outsiders will also be applying.
The three displaced will, of course, be free to apply for any of the other 10 top posts in Northern Ireland’s new council set-up, and that will be a precursor to posts within the local authorities declared vacant and there will be a scramble for jobs all over Northern Ireland councils.
There are fears that the mammoth job of re-organisation may not be complete by the appointed date in the summer of 2015, and the STC will be part of the scramble. The shadow elections are next May.
A meeting of the STC was held in Craigavon Civic Centre of Wednesday, with five Craigavon Borough Council representatives chosen under the d’Hondt ‘sharing’ system – Carla Lockhart, Alan Carson (DUP), Gemma McKenna, Paul Duffy (SF) and Arnold Hatch (DUP). SDLP, with two councillors, did not qualify for a place, nor did sole Alliance councillor, Conrad Dixon.
A similar number from Armagh and Banbridge have been chosen for the STC.
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