Minister Phil Hogan rings the changes at Limerick local authorities

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE new merged authority will have a ‘leader’, as well as a mayor under new proposals unveiled yesterday by Minister Phil Hogan

THE new merged authority will have a ‘leader’, as well as a mayor under new proposals unveiled yesterday by Minister Phil Hogan

At present, the mayor is the figurehead of Limerick City Council, while the Cathaoirleach heads up the County Council.

But under a series of radical changes announced by Mr Hogan yesterday, this will change.

It is unclear how many councillors will be in the new local authority when the election comes in 2014, but sources have suggested the current combined membership of 45 will be cut to either 39 or 40 councillors.

Nationally, Mr Hogan is seeking to cut the number of local councillors from the current 1,627 to around 950.

In the report - named Putting People First - the current electoral areas are to be divided into ‘municipal districts’, with dedicated committees with new powers.

“In view of the extent of population and membership, division of the Limerick and Waterford metropolitan districts into electoral sub-areas is likely to be warranted,” the report states.

An electoral review committee is to sit later this year to determine the exact make-up of the new Limerick local council.

Councillors will also see their powers reduced in planning matters, notably when it comes to voting for the disposal of land.

The local enterprise boards are to be abolished, and replaced with an office in City Hall, with the report stating the amalgamation “provides an unprecedented opportunity to place economic development at the centre of government reform.”

The report also confirms that the headquarters of the new local authority is “likely” to be at City Hall.

Meanwhile, the regional authority, which sits on a monthly basis in Nenagh, and sends five representatives from each of the region’s councils, is to be cut in size and extended to cover the whole southern region.

Only two councillors from the new merged authority will attend meetings from 2014.

Shannon Town Council will be abolished, in line with all the other town councils across Ireland.