More than 200 local government delegates attended a seminar today to help prepare councils for their upcoming duty of community planning.
Hosted by the Department of the Environment at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena, the event examined the recently published Community Planning Foundation Programme and the part it plays in councils’ preparations for community planning – a duty they will take forward from April 2015 under local government reform.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “Community planning involves integrating all the various streams of public life, such as the services and functions that are delivered in an area, and producing a long term plan for the future direction of that council district.
“Councils will work with their local communities, and statutory bodies and agencies, to promote the well-being of their area and improve the quality of life of its citizens. Essentially community planning will ensure that citizens’ needs are at the heart of decision-making on local services.”
Delegates heard from local council officers involved in the preparation of the Foundation Programme as well as from representatives of Falkirk Council in Scotland which has been undertaking community planning for the last ten years.
The Minister added: “This event has helped to foster a better understanding of community planning, the benefits and challenges it brings, and the processes and approaches contained within the Community Planning Foundation Programme that support it. It gave a real sense of the preparations required between now and 2015.”
Community Planning is an integral part of the local government reform package that will also see our 26 councils reduce to 11 and a number of functions transfer from central to local government.