Nearly £250,000 will be spent on ‘getting to know you’ sessions for council staff ahead of the transition into 11 new district authorities.
Each new council has been given a budget to spend on training which includes morale-boosting exercises and seminars on managing change.
Locally, part of the £20,000 allocation from the Department of the Environment has already been spent by the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon supercouncil to hire entertainer David Meade to facilitate a staff engagement seminar.
Northern Ireland’s 26 councils are to be cut to 11 next year. Each of those council’s has been allocated £20,000 to fund projects to aid the transition.
The Department of the Environment confirmed the range of activities include ‘getting to know you’ sessions, seminars on the change process, effective communication tools and site visits across the new cluster areas.
The ABC supercouncil chose to spend part of the their budget on Banbridge-born mentalist David Meade, one of Northern Ireland’s best known entertainers as well as being a researcher and lecturer in international business.
A spokesperson for the ABC Council said the cost of hiring Mr Meade represented value for money.
They said: “We can confirm that Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon used some of the funding from DoE for a staff engagement event facilitated by David Meade.
“Approximately 200 employees from across the three councils attended the event.
“The objectives of the session were to encourage staff engagement across the cluster, boost morale and present positive outlook in time of uncertainty, and build relationships and mutual understanding as a basis for working together in the future.
“The intended outcomes were shared messaging and understanding, to create links with colleagues across the sector, and reduced anxiety about the future
“David Meade was chosen as a facilitator for his ability to combine his business skills (as he is a researcher and lecturer in international business) with performance skills which have gained him a reputation for an innovative style that forces audiences to think critically about the challenges around them.
“Following post event evaluation it is considered that objectives and outcomes were met and the event represented value for money.”
Meanwhile it’s been revealed that councillors elected to the new authorities in May will receive a 44% pay rise, bringing their basic annual allowance to £14,200.