Cllr Richard Holmes has welcomed a UUP motion to Tuesday’s Leisure and Development Committee calling for the Secretary of State to devolve regeneration powers to local councils.
“Talk to any elector, from students to business people, from job seekers to retirees and you hear the same frustrations with Stormont and the inability to maintain a functioning executive. Its absence is now having a negative effect on our local economy but Stormont seems to be no closer to a return.
“The decision by the Sinn Fein/DUP coalition to put off the devolution of regeneration powers to local government with little explanation flies in the face of their willingness to seek more powers, primarily fiscal, from Westminster.
“With the failure of Stormont it is once more for Local Government to provide leadership and delivery within Northern Ireland. Regeneration powers are vital in our Borough. Walk down any high street from Limavady to Ballycastle, Coleraine to Ballymoney, Garvagh to Bushmills, Castlerock to Dungiven. They are all falling into disrepair in an internet age and independent business are those who will suffer most.
“The Sinn Fein/DUP coalition have seemingly been more focused on delivering lucrative subsidy schemes for the few. We, as councillors, are being asked to provide leadership in a vacuum of responsibility by those at Stormont.
“That is why the Ulster Unionists are calling on the Secretary of State, who has the power to deliver this key reform to local government, to do what was initially agreed by Sinn Fein/DUP. With the power must come the appropriate resources. Given the propensity for Stormont to pump money into Irish Language Acts and Cash for Ash boiler schemes, I think the budget would be in wiser hands at a Local Government level!
“It’s time for Mr Brokenshire to let councillors get on with it and show just what can be done.”