The count starts this morning (Friday) at Banbridge Leisure Centre to determine the 41 members of the new Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon (ABC) ‘shadow’ council that will take assume power next year.
Less than half the 83 candidates named on yesterday’s voting cards will have made it by the time the count finishes late tomorrow – they represent 10 parties, with three independents and there are 12 current members of Craigavon Borough Council trying to aspire to the new body.
CEO Theresa Donnelly has already left her Craigavon post to head the new Lisburn-Castlereagh super-council although she is returning officer for the ABC count. She has been replaced by Acting CEO Robert Colvin, current director of building services at the Civic Centre.
Items on the first agendas will be what to do with the three existing civic centres; deciding on the title of the ‘Chair’ of the group; and the flags issue.
It is thought the constituency will retain Armagh’s ‘Lord Mayor’ honour, with the incumbent centred at the Palace and that Craigavon and Banbridge civic centres will house the staff’s various departments.
Yesterday’s poll was expected to be below the 60 per cent-plus turn-out across the three separate councils in 2011 – the Armagh figure then was 61.8%, Banbridge polled 56.4% and the Craigavon figure was 62.7%. Some 124,996 were entitled to vote.
The UUP, SF, UUP, SDLP and Alliance – will watch keenly as the ballot boxes are opened, as will the ‘new’ parties like UKIP, PUP, NI21 and TUV, with observers predicting 25-26 of the 41 new members emerging from the unionist tradition and the rest from the republican-nationalist ethos.
The wards are as follows – Armagh: 10 candidates, six seats; Banbridge: 12 candidates, seven seats; Craigavon: 12 candidates, five seats; Cusher: seven candidates, five seats; Lagan River: 12 candidates, five seats; Lurgan: 17 candidates, seven seats; Portadown: 13 candidates, six seats.