Former Craigavon Mayor Arnold Hatch has been elected chairman of NILGA (Northern Ireland Local Government Association) for the second time – he formerly held the post in 2007-08.
The organisation represents the 26 council in Northern Ireland, soon to be reduced to 11. So it will be an important year for Mr Hatch, who will be in the NILGA chair during the elections for the new set-up, which includes Craigavon being merged with neighbouring Armagh and Banbridge.
Not that he’ll literally be in the chair! He will be fighting the elections as a UUP politician, anxious to retain the Portadown seat which he has occupied in the Craigavon set-up almost continuously since 1977.
A strong advocate of NILGA, he has been on office bearer since 2005, and is chair of its Strategic Migration Partnership. Other responsibilities include membership of the NI Executive’s Rent Assessment Panel, and the NI Housing Council.
He is a Board Member on the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and was recently appointed Chairman of Clounagh Junior High School board of governors in Portadown. He backs the ‘Option A’ changes in the Dickson Plan for Education.
Interests outside politics include singing in the tenor sections of Portadown Male Voice Choir and his church choir at Armagh Road Presbyterian Church where he was recently appointed an elder.
“I am a firm believer in the role of NILGA,” he said. “It’s a real honour to be elected president for the second time, and in a year when the role of local government will be changed greatly.”