Council reject change on transition voting system

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As expected, Ballymoney Borough Council have stood firm on the selection procedure adopted to elect members to the new Statutory Transition Council prior to the restructuring of district councils in the province.

A row broke out with Ministerial intervention when Ballymoney, along with a number of other councils, based their selection on the current strength of the council and not on the recommendation of the Department on the outcome of the 2011 elections.

At that time, the Ulster Unionists had a total of two seats but the defection of Councillor Bill Kennedy back to the DUP changed the political landscape of the council and gave the DUP an outright majority.

As a result, the DUP took an extra seat during the selection procedure much to the annoyance of the Ulster Unionists who lost out as a result.

The outcome led to Councillor Tom McKeown criticising the DUP for adopting an approach contrary to the wishes of the Department, but the DUP held that there was no stature compelling them to do so.

At last week’s monthly meeting of the council, the matter was raised again following correspondence from Minister, Mark Durkan, who had urged the council to use the D’hondt as the default method based on the election results in 2011.

He asked the council to reconsider, but in a terse response, DUP Councillor Bill Kennedy said his party had decided that there would be no change to the method they had adopted.

Cllr McKeown proposed that they follow the Minister’s guidelines and have a re-run of the voting, a move seconded by Cllr William Blair. A vote resulted in a defeat for Cllr. McKeown by two votes (9-7).