Zero percent rate increase in Causeway Coast & Glens

Reports have suggested the government could pay �50bn to leave the EU
Reports have suggested the government could pay �50bn to leave the EU

Councillors have agreed to a zero percent change to rates in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area.

And, although ratepayers can be relieved that their annual bill will not increase, there is concern that by failing to remain in step with the rate of inflation, further cuts to services are inevitable across the borough.

It is the third year in a row that there has been no increase to the rates in the council area.

The propsoal for a zero percent increase came from Ulster Unionist councillor Richard Holmes who said that the council must seek to reduce the cost of services rather than reducing services themselves.

“Ulster Unionist Councillors are determined to ensure council tackles waste and inefficiency and improves income from commercial activity,” he said.

“Council must act to cut the cost of services and not the service itself. There needs to be a root and branch review of our operations to chase the waste from it and save money.

“Elsewhere we need to ensure we maximise our revenue streams.

“This is particularly so within the leisure services sector where incomes do not even cover wages.

“We cannot continue spending £200,000 per month subsidising leisure centres. The answer is simple - we need more people through the doors.

“Not only will this improve the financial position of the centres but also the general health and well-being of the population.

“RPA was implemented by Stormont and was designed to make local government more efficient. The rate increases proposed by Sinn Fein and the SDLP fly in the face of the very reason behind RPA.

“The cost of government cannot continue to rise year on year.

“I welcome the zero percentage rate rise and pay tribute to the work of officers and council workers who will be delivering an unprecedented third year of a domestic rate freeze.”

The DUP grouping supported the zero percent.

Party group lead Ald. John Finlay said: “The amalgamation of Councils in 2015 was intended to reduce the cost of local government.

“On this, good progress has been made by Causeway Borough Council with three successive years of local rates freezes.

Whilst a spectrum of socialist party representatives proposed rates rises, they did so without giving any thought as to what hardships this would impose on low income families. Nor was there evidence of any thought for the small businesses who form the backbone of the local economy.

“It is well known that our party group has advocated a medium-term rates plan to enable stability to continue whilst Council delivers front line services and invest in the schemes that matter most to our citizens.

“The development of such a plan is a necessity and we see that as a continuing priority for Council and we look forward to working with officers to deliver that objective.”