Last week the new ‘super’ council had its first meeting. It’s in shadow form until next year when it’s due to replace the existing councils in Derry and Strabane.
There’s no doubt about it. We don’t need a devolved executive and 26 councils to govern six counties. It’s hard to believe it but until 1972 we had Stormont and over 70 councils. Some of them were right horror stories in terms of fairness but they delivered basic services pretty well.
Will the new council live up to its billing by being a super council? We can hope but we can’t be confident. There must be economies of scale and efficiencies. If the new council makes local government more remote from citizens without doing things better, the change will have been pointless. And, planning policies mustn’t become even more arbitrary and inconsistent than they are already.
The big question is: will Derry people still be able to tell jokes about “the Strabane man.” (Presumably it also happens the other way round?)
The JED column in this paper used to be a rich source of jokes about “the Strabane man”. This one must have appeared around the time Mrs Thatcher was fighting Argentina in 1982. What’s the difference between an Exocet Missile and a Strabane man at a dance? Answer: the Strabane man gets shot down every time.
It’s a bad sign when you start remembering jokes from over 30 years ago. It’ll be downhill all the way from here on.