Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council continues to oppose water and sewerage charges
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Councillors discussed the possible introduction of charges at a meeting of the Council’s Corporate Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday, January 30.
It followed the rollout of public consultations by Northern Ireland departments, under the direction of Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris, on measures to support “budget sustainability and raise additional revenue”.
The consultation included an overview of potential water and sewerage revenue raising options which “could be introduced in Northern Ireland, with a focus on those areas which would offer greatest value, to address the unsustainability of public finances.”
It also seeks views on how water and sewerage charging could be introduced and how charging might be billed and collected.
Sinn Féin Councillor Cara McShane said the consultation was something that “all political parties” should oppose.
“It is a cynical attempt to introduce punitive charges on people and families that are already suffering immensely in this economic crisis,” Cllr McShane said.
“So hopefully we as a council will put in a strong response to the introduction of any additional levies,” she added.
“In Ballycastle, where I represent, there’s difficulty in expanding development and housing because sewerage is at capacity, so there’s an underinvestment in our water and infrastructure. Far from introducing charges, there needs to be significant investment in our water structure.”
At an council meeting in early January, DUP Councillor Mervyn Storey said Mr Heaton-Harris, alongside the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), had made a “disgraceful decision to put out a consultation on water and sewage charges”.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Corporate Policy and Resources Committee, Cllr Storey said: “There is this fallacy that we don’t pay for water. We already pay for water in our rates, so the Department for Infrastructure needs to tell us what proportion of ratepayers’ money goes to NI Water.”
“We remain opposed to water charges and I hope that all parties support that, because it would have an adverse impact on the people we claim to represent,” added Cllr Storey.