MEA Mayor vows: ‘Services will be protected’

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The protection of front line services is of paramount importance within the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the new mayor has said.

Councillor Billy Ashe was elected as first citizen of the newly-operational authority, which officially came into being this week after almost a year in ‘shadow’ form.

Cllr Ashe will oversee the former boroughs of Carrickfergus, Larne and Ballymena, with Ballymena-based councillor Timothy Gaston serving as deputy.

“The old councils had been operating in much the same way for the past 45 years; the big challenge now is to bring the three separate councils together as one but to make sure that front line services continue,” Cllr Ashe said.

Although Ballymena will be the “administrative” centre of the new supercouncil, residents in Carrickfergus and Larne should still be able to avail of services such as dog licensing locally. “This may mean council staff moving around,” the mayor added.

The new authority will also boast extended powers which were unavailable to its smaller-scale predecessors. “There will be new planning powers, community planning and powers of wellbeing, which will cover areas such as health and the local economy,” Cllr Ashe said.