Northern Ireland

Severance packages for councillors outlined by Alex Attwood

Alex Attwood
Image caption Alex Attwood is bringing forward proposals for severance packages for local councillors

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has confirmed he is bringing forward proposed severance payments for veteran councillors.

He said the payments would not be as generous as originally proposed and would be subject to a cap of no more than £30,000.

Mr Attwood's statement comes ahead of the reorganisation of local government in Northern Ireland.

As a result the current 26 councils will become 11 'super councils'.

Mr Attwood has already proposed an end to 'double-jobbing' on the new councils.

He said there would be a minimum eligibility period of three terms for the severance payments for councillors leaving as a result of the reorganisation.

Councillors who are also MPs, MLAs, MEPs or Members of the House of Lords will not be entitled.

Mr Attwood said the severance packages had been affected by two factors.

"Firstly, it was envisaged that there would be a dramatic reduction in the number of councillors under the new RPA (Review of Public Administration) arrangements - thus justifying a broad severance provision.

"The executive has decided that the reduction in the number of councillors will be much more modest than originally envisaged. I therefore think a more focused severance scheme is an appropriate response.

"Secondly, all of this was prior to the economic downturn and the pressure on the public purse."

Mr Attwood again said that he favoured a 15-council model, as opposed to the 11 council one.

He said that following the reform of local government, councillors would be taking on more work, as they will be serving larger councils with an increased range of functions.

"Their remuneration should be reviewed to assess what is the proper level of remuneration and to recommend changes, if any," he said.

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