A new era in local government is dawning and my new appointment as Chief Executive of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council puts me in the privileged position of playing a key role in this process.
Our new organisation – one of 11 larger councils to be established in Northern Ireland as part of Local Government Reform – will become operational on 1 April 2015. But until then, I along with 41 councillors and 1,195 employees will work towards the common goal of creating and shaping a new organisation that is a community-focused, citizen-centred and performance-orientated.
Creating the second largest council in Northern Ireland in terms of population size and the fourth largest in terms of geographical size will be a major challenge. Despite the magnitude of the task ahead, I feel that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to champion a new organisation that builds on the strengths of past achievements.
So now that the Shadow Council has been established, preparatory work for the new organisation is getting underway. The focus at this stage is on creating an organisational structure, establishing a committee system, developing a short-term corporate plan, preparing budgets, aligning services, developing a new corporate brand and making arrangements for transferring functions (including local planning, off street parking, local economic development, urban regeneration and community development).
As well as making key decisions for the new organisation, the Shadow Council will work hard over the coming year to ensure the transition both before and after 1 April 2015 is smooth. Our priority is to make sure that we continue to deliver a wide range of services to the high standard that local ratepayers, residents and service users have become accustomed to.
I am confident that we will achieve this because I am surrounded by a pool of talented people who are willing to embrace the change – daunting though it may be – and rise to the challenge. Take a look at the ‘Council Area’ page if you haven’t already done so, as it contains a map and some very interesting facts and figures about the new council area.
We are starting with a blank sheet. This provides us with the opportunity to create a new council that fulfils the potential of its people and offers a better quality of life for current and future generations. The onus is on us to deliver. And that’s what we intend to do!
We’ll do our best to keep you informed of our progress. So remember to review this website regularly. In case you have a specific query, simply fill in the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.