New planning ‘schools’ for councillors

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After years of fighting long-running battles with planning authorities, local councillors, including several from the Ballymena area, will have to ‘put up or shut up.’

For decades, monthly planning meetings were punctuated at regular intervals with bitter arguments as elected representatives struggled to persuade civil servants to come around to their way of thinking.#

But with the advent of the new local authorities in Northern Ireland, those very same councillors are being sent ‘back to school’ to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively carry out planning functions which transfer from central government to local councils in April 2015.

Minister, Mark H Durkan said: “These training events will help ensure that decision makers have the confidence, as well as the competence, to make prompt, sound planning decisions from day one.

“They are a result of ongoing significant efforts to ensure that councillors, council staff and planning staff receive the necessary training to ensure that those with responsibility for delivering the new system have the capacity to make it the best it can be.

“The reform of local government will ultimately deliver local councils which are more effective, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their local businesses and community.”

Ttraining events are due to be rolled out across the North from early September 2014 to late January 2015 to this effect.