Naming the new councils

A settlement has now been reached for the names of the 11 councils.

The preliminary titles of the 11 new councils were first unveiled in a report made by the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner in late 2008, although legislation has enabled them to make changes on an ad hoc basis. Any proposed names are required to incorporate all of the major areas contained within the respective council’s boundaries or, alternatively, be completely original. After much debate, the majority of council names have remained broadly within their 2008 formats.

Any local authority wishing to designate itself as a borough council can continue to do so, either by way of an existing charter or through an application to the Secretary of State for the grant of a new one. Councils which encompass one of the five cities can also choose to designate themselves as city councils.

As expected, three nationalist majority councils have continued as district councils while four mainly unionist councils opted to retain their borough status. Notably, the three district councils have adopted a bilingual language policy for their logo, literature and property names. Similarly, both of the combined city councils adopted joint district or borough status. Of the five councils which encompass a city, only the mainly rural Newry, Mourne and Down opted to exclude this status in its title.

Local authorities have also opted for alternative styles of civic leadership. Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Belfast City Council are both headed by a Lord Mayor, the three district councils have retained their chairs and the six remaining borough councils all have mayors.

Naming decisions have caused several controversies. In Newry, Mourne and Down, for instance, there has been vocal opposition from the South Armagh Chamber of Commerce to the exclusion of any reference to South Armagh. Unionists have been deeply critical of the decision to amalgamate the names of Derry City Council and Strabane District Council instead of suggested alternatives, including the use of ‘Foyle’. Likewise, in Causeway Coast and Glens Council a proposal to eliminate ‘and Glens’ from the title aroused heated debate before councillors voted in favour of retaining the full name. After a negative reaction to the proposed ‘East Coast Borough Council’, the local authority reverted to Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Similarly, the cost of the rebranding process, which includes naming options, has provoked criticism. At least three councils have spent in excess of £20,000 on consultants. Meanwhile, five other councils – Belfast City Council, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Causeway Coast and Glens, and Mid Ulster – did not commission consultants to consider replacement naming options.

• Belfast City Council
• Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

• Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
• Ards and North Down Borough Council
• Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
• Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

• Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
• Derry City and Strabane District Council

• Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
• Mid Ulster District Council
• Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

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