After more than 40 years in existence, Fermanagh District Council will disappear at midnight on March 31. In its place from April 1 will be the new Fermanagh Omagh District Council with its 40 councillors, some familiar as they have previous served and some newly elected to the new higher paid positions.

Of course coming with the new council will be new powers and responsibilities. In addition to all the responsibilities of the old councils it replaces, the Fermanagh Omagh District Council will now also deal with local planning issues, off-street car parking, local economic development and community development. Community development and urban regeneration responsibilities will be transferred in a year’s time.

Fermanagh Council which has been a model for the rest of Northern Ireland having responsibility for one entire county, had a particular focus on tourism and over the course of so many years, inspired the development of the Marble Arch Geopark, the Ardhowen Theatre and now the major refurbishment of Enniskillen Castle Museums, as well as numerous smaller schemes.

Let’s hope that the new council will continue to lead on tourism because it is one area of interest which Fermanagh needs backing and further development.

Ratepayers in Fermanagh will always complain about their rates bill but the local council has largely been prudent with expenditure and ratepayers here enjoyed one of the lowest domestic rates in the Province. That is initially set to change with a levelling out of rates across Fermanagh and Omagh districts which will see a rise in our rates bills when they drop through out letterboxes over the next few weeks.

There is room for improvement in some simple logistics. Fermanagh Council approved a new address system for people in rural areas several years ago but we are still some way from seeing the end result as road names have not yet been erected. Emergency services and delivery companies continue to complain about the lack of clarity with this issue. Even households have not been pressed to put their house number at the end of their lanes.

The new council must listen to the people and deliver a service that is applicable to all. Let’s get the basic infrastructure matters right first and then they can plan new developments for the future.

Accountability will be one of the ways that people will judge the new council. Let’s hope the voices of the people will be listened to when it comes to provision of services rather than the council becoming a talking shop for political gain.