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An implementation group has been established to oversee the practical work of local government reorganisation in Waterford following on from Government approval of the report of the Waterford Local Government Committee as part of the major package of local government reform set out in the Action Programme entitled ‘Putting People First’, launched last week.

The group will be chaired by former Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Sean Aylward, who also chaired the Waterford Local Government Committee. Membership of the Committee includes: Mr Joe Allen (former Principal Officer, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government); Mr Ned Gleeson (former County Manager, Limerick Co. Council); Mr Denis McCarthy (County Manager, Waterford County Council); Mr Frank O’Regan (Vice President, Global Operations, Bausch & Lomb); and Mr Michael Walsh (City Manager, Waterford City Council).

The Waterford Committee report recommends that the Waterford County and Waterford City Councils should be merged with effect from the local elections in 2014. Advantages of this merger, as identified in the report, include strong local leadership, more cohesive economic and social development, enhanced public service coordination and integration, better and more efficient staffing arrangements and financial savings.

The Group has a general mandate to oversee planning, preparatory work and initial implementation of the reorganisation process taking account particularly of the report of the Waterford Local Government Committee and the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government. The work of the group is to be completed by June 30 2013.

Additional initiatives to take place alongside the merger include the retention of offices in both Waterford City and Dungarvan, revised sub-county structures, arrangements to address financial issues and more effective arrangements for coordinated development and planning. The report also outlines the Committee’s vision for a new Waterford under strong local leadership, with a regenerated City as an intellectual and business engine of the region, attracting visitors and investors on a scale not previously envisaged.

Minister Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment thanked the Waterford Local Government Committee and assured “planning for the new arrangements will begin immediately and will be carried out in an inclusive manner, having regard to the respective urban and rural considerations, as recommended by the Committee”.