Derry council under review with new wards, maps, borders and name among possible changes

An independent review of the Derry City & Strabane District Council area has been launched which could lead to local ward and electoral boundaries being changed.

The Local Government Boundaries Commissioner Sarah Havlin will publish provisional proposals, outlining any proposed changes to local government boundaries by the end of July 2021.

After that written submissions will be invited on Ms. Havlin’s recommendations which could include changes to the number, boundaries and names of wards and even to the council area itself. Public hearings will be held to gather feedback from the public.

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The aim of the process is to achieve electoral equality by addressing any geographical divergences in population growth across the district.

The Guildhall. The seat of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“The outcomes will inform the make-up of local government in the foreseeable future and will consider the impact of electorate changes since 2009 and other recent developments,” said Ms. Havlin.

“The process is about independently ensuring electoral equality and fairness across Northern Ireland, with the aim that all the wards within a district should, as far as possible, have a similar number of electors.

“With that I mind, it’s important that we hear the views of local people and their representatives on these matters, and I would encourage people to regularly check our website and social media channels for more information on how they can have their voice heard in this process,” she added.

This is the first review since Ms. Havlin’s predecessor Dick McKenzie provided recommendations on the eleven ‘supercouncils’ over ten years ago. Back in 2009 some unionists complained the new council was to be named either Derry City & Strabane District Council or Derry City & Strabane Regional Council.

The current DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell, who was still a Derry City councillor at the time, said: “While the preferred choice for most Unionists would be Londonderry and Strabane Council we made it clear that the choice of either North West Regional Council or Foyle Regional Council would not cause offence or create recruitment difficulties for people in any community. The use of Derry has been politicised since the 1980s and is used as a triumphalist tool by sections of the Nationalist and Republican community and therefore cannot be a term to offer the prospect of a new start,” he claimed.