Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,906 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Probably a bit late in the day to be talking about this what with the elections taking place on Thursday, but anyway. The 26 current councils will become 11. An important new function of the councils will include planning powers, like how it works down south & in Britain. A lot of people seem to be unhappy about the way councils have merged in strange ways in order to level out the total population of each electoral area, though Belfast has largely escaped this and will still have an electorate much higher than any other council. I'm a career pessimist but for some reason I'm (maybe wrongly) optimistic that the new Belfast council with it's increased size & powers could well improve the city. Saying that I think the existing city council is alright.

Was listening to the Wendy Austin show last week and it turns out the civil service will be spending a lot of time & money training councillors how to deal with their new planning powers- I'm very glad this is happening as I feared they would just be thrown in at the deep end where they would be 'vulnerable' to approving any scheme the cash in brown envelopes brigade advise them to. Also important is the DOE's right to veto any decisions that will have a regional impact (ie. beyond the borders of the council)- so there's no danger of the Lisburn & Castlereagh councillors approving John Lewis at Sprucefield on a whim.

What are your thoughts on the new super councils, in particular Belfast.

I'm happy to see Belfast council expanded though don't think it is big enough. Largely content with the Lisburn council parts of West & South Belfast being ceded to Belfast apart from the omission of Seymour Hill- though due to the patchwork nature of the green belt round here it was always going to be a challenging boundary. On the other hand I think they missed a massive opportunity to dissolve Castlereagh & Newtownabbey councils into Belfast. Newtownbreda as a seperate entity was always a dysfunctional concept but now with the loss of Belvoir it's even more so. Urban Newtownabbey makes more sense as a geographical unit but the idea that say, Rathcoole should look towards Antrim town as a civic hub rather than Belfast City Hall is laughable. Of course this is the problem with shrinking the number of councils- how do you reconcile different towns that have little affinity for each other and are de facto competitors for jobs & money.

I think as the only real city in Northern Ireland Belfast has emerged from this shake up much better than the rest of the country- though would it really have hurt to move the border 1.5m east into Dundonald, given that they saw fit to include largely rural Edenderry. I suspect that was a case where Lisburn/ Castlereagh was missing a few thousand residents to make it on par with other councils so a population shift took place.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
22,358 Posts
Belfast has emerged rather well, but I agree with should be better and had control over a larger area, including places such as Glengormley, Jordanstown and so on. Though....we aren't the only council to have silly boundaries so what we do have isn't half bad.


The planning powers are a massive massive opportunity for Belfast. A few big projects were approved by BCC Planning Committee but then denied by DoE Planning. I'm hoping that BCC have a more ambitious and progressive outlook in terms of planning and I also hope that as contactable councillors they can be emailed should a plan or building look hideous and thus serve as a good way to feed comments from interested parties, such as ourselves, to the developers and architects when they appear before the committee.

I think Belfast CC will be good for Belfast planning, unlike Dublin CC which seems terrified of annoying ABP or An Taisce
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50 Posts
I'm not entirely sure about these new council boundaries. I think it's a shame that Fermanagh (where I'm from) was the only council in NI to have it's own county council, and now that's been lost. Also I agree with your point about two places now being forced together when they usually compete for jobs, how can this work?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
148 Posts
As with virtually all boundary changes, it has been gerrymandered. I'm from Newtownabbey and we view ourselves and are viewed by others as Greater Belfast. I know others from Carrick who are blow ins from N'Abbey and Belfast that look towards the city. However, that doesn't leave Belfast as a "hung" city and model of power-sharing (stop laughing at the back).

On the elections, good luck to those of all political persuasions who are standing that have put work into their communities, either as current councillors or as voluntary/community workers who have now decided to put their heads on the chopping block. If there's one thing I abhor, it's loudmouths saying that they never see politicians until they turn up on their doorsteps at election time. The best response is to point out that they (the moaners) obviously do nothing for their communities as they would see them (the councillors who work hard) at everything from residents' meetings to board of governors meetings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,906 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not entirely sure about these new council boundaries. I think it's a shame that Fermanagh (where I'm from) was the only council in NI to have it's own county council, and now that's been lost. Also I agree with your point about two places now being forced together when they usually compete for jobs, how can this work?
The original plans for super councils were based very much on keeping them all with a similar population level, which is where some of the more bizarre mergers originate from. It's a mathematicians attempt at making things 'more fair' by having the numbers of councillors for each particular council largely the same across all regions- except Belfast which is just too big- even under it's current boundaries it would be significantly larger than any of the other super councils. But that reflects it's status as the lone city in a country of small towns. Fermanagh being the least populated of counties (by a long shot too) would never have survived intact.

As to the bolded part. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. I've heard anecdotal evidence of English councils unfairly prioritising certain towns in their authority over other ones. Has anyone seen this at local level? At the moment you will hear many nationalists complain that Lisburn council does virtually nothing for it's West Belfast wards (ie. a full half of their electorate), but this is under the current system where the council's power is very much of the bins births & burials sort. What will happen under the new super councils when the likes of Craigavon & Banbridge will be under the same council but are bitter rivals in terms of shopping centres. Up till now these sort of decisions have been mediated by technocratic civil servants so it will be interesting to see what the politician come up with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
148 Posts
I hope that BCC, with new planning powers, can set a minimum apartment size within the city centre and Titanic Quarter. Let's get liveable accomodation that can allow life back into the city. And use some space for townhouses or urban closes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I know this subject has already been discussed with the new super councils, but the Belfast city boundaries seem crazy. I travel round the country a lot with work and in the middle of the countryside or in the middle of west Belfast you see a sign welcome to the City of Lisburn. I just can't understand why we seem to be trying to make Lisburn into some major place.
I'm not from Lisburn or Belfast so I'm neutral. I don't have any problem with Lisburn which is a nice place but it's much the same size as Bangor. I can just imagine tourists coming to see the city of Lisburn and taking photos of cows and sheep.
Why don't we make more of the so called Belfast metropolitan area as a half decent size of a city area which includes Bangor, Carrick, Lisburn etc, instead of as usual trying to make Belfast as small as we can, by moving people out and boundaries in as history shows.
Surely this would make it more economically attractive and help Northern Ireland as a whole to have a larger stronger capital as I see when traveling to the like of the Greater Manchester area.
I know there is the old argument of the sectarian boundaries and Belfast city council being too big, but Belfast is the only proper city we have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,906 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When I travel past one of those 'City of Lisburn' signs when it's miles deep in the countryside (3 miles south of Carryduff is amusing) I always point it out to people- ESPECIALLY tourists. I'd be the first person to argue that Lisburn shouldn't have got city status but it's understandable that once the thing was in place they would want to put up new signs. I can only hope that the decision to put them up outside of the town proper was something they just hadn't thought through- I dread to think that someone actually thought it was a show of civic pride to put them up in areas where there are twenty cows to every one human.

I'm not sure if a larger Belfast boundary would automatically lead to more investment. People on the Hull section of the forum thought that having the more affluent suburbs cut out of their small city council actually meant they qualified for more funding as it helped put them top of the table for every hardship fund. I'm guessing Newtownabbey Castlereagh & Lisburn are slightly more wealthy although whether those extra ratepayers would contribute much more to the pot remains to be seen. One thing I have heard and I suspect is true is that the ratesbills for the suburban councils is artificially low is because they benefit from being so close to the city. Castlereagh don't really need to build another leisure centre as their residents can go to a Belfast City council one, Lisburn don't need to build another recycling centre as.... sometimes this stuff is good common sense at other times it is penny pinching.

Belfast Corporation used to be affiliated with Newtownabbey, back when it was called Belfast Rural District council. But that was probably when very few people lived there, ie. before Rathcoole was built. I think Castlereagh & Lisburn's boundary was roughly where it was now but again, that mostly predates the Belfast slum clearance that gave these suburbs such a large influx of people. Belfast Corporation asked for a boundary extension several times in the post war era as they were running out of land to expand on. The old Stormont regime denied them this as they didn't want a district council that would be so large and powerful. It had already spent the best part of a century as a giant looming large over any other district. I wonder if this attitude still prevails in the current government set up.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top