Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, has confirmed that the legislation to effect the transfer of a range of powers to the new councils, will now be in place from 1 April 2016, as opposed to 1 April 2015 (as had been previously agreed). The Minister’s full statement is available on the Assembly’s website.
Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, has launched a consultation to determine which organisations should be community planning statutory partners.
Under local government reform, councils will have a new duty of Community Planning from 1 April 2015. This involves bringing together all the services and functions that are delivered in a council area and producing a Community Plan that sets out the future direction of that area. The purpose of the Plan is to improve service delivery for the benefit of citizens.
The DoE is now consulting on the legislation to name the statutory community planning partners that will be required on every community planning partnership. Councils will also have the flexibility to appoint further non-statutory partners to help deliver the particular priorities identified for their area.
Minister Durkan said: “Community Planning will help us work together to improve the social, economic and environmental well being of our council areas. It’s all about partnership working and best using the available resources to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
“Councils in Scotland, England and Wales have been successfully operating Community Planning for the last 10 to 15 years. This is now an exciting opportunity for Northern Ireland; one that will give councils, agencies and the wider community a chance to collaborate and be more flexible to the particular needs of their area.” He added: “This consultation will ensure that we have the right organisations around the table so that Community Planning can start in earnest next April.”
The consultation will close on 12 December 2014. The document is available to view and respond to online on the DoE's website.
In April 2015 Belfast City Council will extend its boundary to take in parts of the existing councils of Castlereagh, Lisburn and North Down. As part of preparations for this, the Council is holding an information event for the community sector on 8 October 2014 in the City Hall. The event runs from 10.00 am until 12 noon and its aim is to keep communities informed of the Council’s plans for the delivery of services in the transferring areas in the run up to 2015.
Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, has announced the publication of Living Places - an Urban Stewardship and Design Guide which aims to establish the key principles behind good place making. Stewardship - the way in which urban places are managed and maintained – was previously considered separately from the processes of planning and design. However, Living Places for the first time treats urban stewardship and design with equal measure, owing to the contribution they both make to the quality of the urban environment.
Launching the guide the Minister said “I encourage everyone with an interest in making successful places to use this guide to strive to create attractive, well maintained, well managed and well connected places that can have a positive impact on our lifestyles. Successful places will improve our health and wellbeing as well as reduce traffic, energy use and pollution.
Living Places is available to view and download from the DoE’s website.
A series of public meetings will be held in September and October 2014 as part of a consultation on the development of a cycling culture for the region. Transport Minister, Danny Kennedy, launched a draft Bicycle Strategy last month which is currently out for consultation.
The Minister said: “Cycling is becoming increasingly popular with more people cycling to work or for leisure. In order to deliver a real cycling revolution ... I want to make cycling an everyday activity where people have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle”.
There is no need to register in advance of the public meetings which will be held in:
- Cookstown on 24 September 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in the Rural Community Network's offices, 38a Oldtown Street;
- Derry/Londonderry on 25 September 2014 (7.00 pm to 9.00 pm) in St Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Road;
- Enniskillen on 30 September 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in Unit 3, 56a Tempo Road;
- Antrim on 1 October 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in Antrim Civic Centre, 50 Stiles Way;
- Newry on 2 October 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in Altnaveigh House, 51 Downshire Road;
- Ballymoney on 7 October 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in Ballymoney Town Hall, Townhead Street;
- Portadown on 22 October 2014 (7.30 pm to 9.30 pm) in Portadown Town Hall, 15 Edward Street; and
- Belfast on 4 November 2014 (10.00 am to 2.00 pm) in the Radisson Blu Hotel, The Gasworks, 3 Cromac Place.
The consultation runs until 21 November 2014.