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Officers ‘pushing back’ on Stormont asking Council to cut more grass without extra funds

grass cutting

A Portadown councillor has called on councillors to remind their MLAs that more money needs to come from Stormont, should Executive departments want councils to take on extra work.

Speaking at a meeting of Council’s environmental services committee, Councillor Paul Duffy asked for more information about the environmental services department’s draft business plan for the 2021-22 financial year.

The Sinn Féin representative expressed some concern at the inclusion of the line “growth of areas to be maintained and managed from other central government departments where budget is not available” in the the challenges and opportunities section of the document.

“Does that line mean we foresee a situation where there is going to be added costs that Council will be picking up from Stormont,” asked Councillor Duffy.

Council’s head of environmental services, Barry Patience said that line was included for members to mindful that various Stormont departments are continuing to ask Council to do more than it has before.

“This is around things like weed spraying and additional grass cutting,” said Mr Patience.

“These things are always brought up and we are just mindful of that. Departments are continuing to ask us to do more but we are pushing back as we have always done.”

Following these comments Councillor Duffy said it might be a good idea for councillors to highlight this concern to the MLAs in each of their parties.

“It may be a job for councillors to relay to our MLAs that budgets are stretched enough at council as it is and that if they are looking us to do more they should allocate more funds to allow us to do these tasks.”

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