No Council Job Losses – “In So Far As Possible”

BrendanHegartyAS far Fermanagh and Omagh councils are concerned, there will be no job losses when  they amalgamate in April 2015.

The amalgamated council will be a ‘significant’ employer, according to Brendan Hegarty, its chief executive. The existing ‘town halls’ will continue to run, with 356 staff based in Enniskillen and 383 in Omagh, along with some 33-43 planners.

Local planning decisions will be one of the additional functions of the new Fermanagh and Omagh council. Mr Hegarty sat alongside Thomas O’Reilly, the presiding councillor and Margaret McMahon, one of the two ‘change’ managers, at a public consultation meeting in Lisnaskea last week. He told the meeting that 100% of all staff would be kept in post: “In so far as possible, all jobs will be accommodated, although, where senior managers are concerned, there may be some rationalisation.”

The council’s other new responsibilities include urban regeneration and community development, local economic development and local tourism, rural development (in part), and off-street parking. Mr Hegarty explained that from 1st April next year, the new council will be dealing with the duties of the existing councils, from recreation and sport to ownership of St Angelo Airport. He explained waste management, reducing the amount going directly into landfill, would continue to be the new council’s biggest expenditure. “For every tonne of waste that goes into landfill, we are charged £82.50, and if we don’t meet those targets, we face fines in the region of £250 a tonne.”

He then revealed that ratepayers residing in Lisnaskea, Irvinestown and Enniskillen would soon be receiving brown bins for their food and green (eg grass cuttings) waste into. He then focused on the new rates bills.

He explained that the new (district) rate for the new council would not be known till January or February next year. “We are not in position to predict what the rate will be. All we can do is go back to the rates convergence model for Fermanagh/Omagh. It predicted that, at that time, an increase for Fermanagh ratepayers of 7.4 per cent (domestic rate) and 4.5 per cent (non-domestic).“

The government are currently working on quantifying exactly what the difference will be, but Fermanagh is one of four most impacted areas. “Are we likely to see an increase in the domestic rate of seven per cent? Central government are saying ‘No’. They have allocated £30m of rates convergence support which will offset that. We are told this scheme will operate for three to four years.”

The new council will be 40-strong and will represent a population of 113,500 of whom 64 per cent are Catholic and 33 per cent Protestant.

Five Months Rent Free Retail Space

ballymenaTwenty arts and craft businesses are to be given the chance by Ballymena Business Centre to benefit from five months free retail space where they can exhibit, showcase and sell their products.

Ballymena Business Centre is providing an opportunity for 20 businesses to locate in their new town centre premises.

Alongside this retail opportunity, the Centre will provide a programme of support to help them grow their business include business coaching, ‘Ready 4 Retail’ interactive workshops, creative cluster mornings and opportunities to promote their products to other tourism, galleries, retail and business sectors. Ballymena Business Centre are encouraging applications from individuals who meet the following criteria: Residing within the Ballymena and Neighbouring Council Areas, aged 18 years and over, self-employed creator of quality arts and craft products and a desire to grow your business.

Applications closed on Tuesday, September 30 and we look forward to congratulating the successful applicants.

The iniative is supported by the Creative Industries Innovation Fund through Arts Council Northern Ireland and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Now Less Than 2 Million Unemployed In UK

Office for National StatisticsUnited kingdom joblessness fell by 154,000 in the 3 months to the end of August to 1.97 million, the first time it has been below 2 million since 08, official numbers show.

The drop took the joblessness rate down to 6%, its lowest level since late 2008.

The employment rates are now 73%, close to its all-time high of 73.2%, the Office for National Statistics stated.

Over the yr, the number of unemployed people fell by 538,000, the largest annual fall since records began.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in September fell by 18,600 to 951,900.

The drop marks the 23rd consecutive monthly reduction.

Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings in the June-to-August period rose by 0.9% from a year earlier. Including bonuses, earnings rose by 0.7%.

However, earnings remain below the rate of inflation, currently 1.2%.

In total, there are now a record 30.76 million people in work.

However, the number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, long-term sick and those retiring early, increased by 113,000 in the quarter to more than nine million.

The number of self-employed people dropped by 76,000 in the latest three-month period to 4.5 million, but the total is 279,000 higher than a year ago.

And the number of employees in part-time jobs has reached a record high of 6.8 million.

Youth unemployment – covering 16-to-24-year-olds – fell by 88,000 over the quarter to 733,000, giving a jobless rate among the age group of 16%.

Employment minister Esther McVey said: “Today’s record figures show that the government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is proving successful.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves tweeted that the jobs figures showed a “welcome fall in unemployment”.

“But wages still well behind inflation. The pay squeeze on working people continues,” she added.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “Britain is fast becoming the job creation capital of the Western economies. Because our recovery plan is working, so is the country and in record numbers.”