Council Elections Offer ‘Big Chance’ To Business

The upcoming elections to the north’s 11 new councils represent “a big opportunity for the business community”.

That is according to the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), which said it could help companies be part of more sustainable local economies and places.

It said the aftermath of the May 22 elections would provide opportunities for the business community “to help shape and improve the local economy of the core areas they work in”.

The present councils will exist in shadow form before the new 11 area model takes over from next April.

The new councils will assume new powers over key parts of local economic development, planning, community investment, urban regeneration, off-street car parking, and tourism.

NILGA CEO Derek McCallan said the election “will determine the make-up of our new councils, which will have more economic powers than ever before”. “Individual councils will have a strengthened role in ensuring that the local investment climate fits the needs of local businesses by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, encouraging the formation of new businesses, attracting external investment and generally supporting the growth of business in their local areas,” he said. “Regrouping a number of key functions such as planning, urban regeneration, local economic development and local tourism, will give councils some powerful tools with which to shape their areas and communities. “This will change for the better the way we plan our cities, towns and rural areas, and will allow local people to influence and make decisions on local business development, infrastructure provision, job creation and economic competitiveness.”

NILGA is running a Participate 14 programme to encourage the local business community “to help make your area a place you want to do business in, a place where your employees want to live and work and a place you want to invest in,” Mr McCallan said.