LARNE residents are being urged to air their views on the planned shake-up of local council boundaries.
The long-awaited process of replacing Northern Ireland’s 26 councils with 11 larger bodies took a major step forward this week, as a report was published setting out suggested boundaries for the new authorities. The new councils are due to be up-and-running by 2015.
As part of the reform, it has been recommended that the Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena council areas will merge into new Mid and East Antrim Council.
This super-council would be made up of seven District Electoral Areas (DEAs), comprising 40 wards, 40 councillors and representing an electorate of over 97,000 people.
Currently, the Larne Borough is made up of three DEAs – Larne Town, Larne Lough and Coast Road. However, under the plans, Larne Town DEA will cease to exist.
The remaining two DEAs will be split into five wards each, with Larne Lough comprising of Islandmagee, Whitehead South, Ballycarry and Glynn, Curran and Inver, and Kilwaughter. Meanwhile, Coast Road will be made up of Carnlough and Glenarm, Cairncastle, Craigyhill, Gardenmore and The Maidens.
Each ward represents a seat on the council, but councillors are elected to represent a DEA rather than a ward, by a system of proportional representation.
The amalgamation will therefore reduce the number of Larne councillors from 15 to 10. The remainder of the council will be made up of 10 Carrick councillors and 20 representatives from the Ballymena area.
A period of public consultation has now been set aside to allow local people to comment on the proposals. A public inquiry may be held if there are enough objections to the plans, before final recommendations are made to the Secretary of State.
Author of the report, District Electoral Area Commissioner Richard MacKenzie said: “I hope that as many people as possible will take the opportunity to comment on these proposals.”
The consultation is due to end on June 27. The proposals can be viewed at www.deac-ni.org