Rates row erupts in council

DUP Councillors on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Corporate Service Committee have said they are “saddened” that the rates rise struck last week is steeper than they had proposed

It is understood that the DUP group had proposed a rates rise for the year ahead of 2.2%. However, the other members of the committee rejected the proposal and instead hiked both the domestic and non-domestic rates in the city by 3.64%.

For a residence with a rateable value of £180,000 within the council area, the agreed district rate element represents an increase of £1.73 a month, or an increase of £20.70 in the year.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The rate allows the council to strike a balance that recognises the challenging financial context and the need to continue to invest in communities.

Alderman Amanda Grehan

“It will enable a budget that helps deliver what matters.

“It will also provide the funding required to commit to much needed investment in facilities such as Dundonald Ice Bowl, 3G pitches at Laurelhill and Lough Moss, improved full fibre connection across the council area and a range of community and environmental initiatives.”

However the DUP group hit out at the other parties on the committee, who, aside from the SDLP, agreed to the higher rate increase, against the wishes of the DUP councillors.

A spokesperson for the DUP said: “We are saddened for the ratepayers of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council that the UUP, Alliance, SF and the Green Party voted to put up their rates.

“The DUP council group wanted to send a clear message to our ratepayers that we are standing with them at this very difficult time, sadly the SDLP was the only other party to stood with us.

“For the first time in this council’s history, an applied balance was not added to offset the burden on our business and ratepayers.

“While the DUP are disappointed we are not surprised that other parties would rather play party politics and not support our residents,

“We would like to reassure our ratepayers that we will continue to fight to reduce this unnecessary burden that the UUP, Alliance, SF and Green Party has inflicted on them, with this hike in their rates bill.”

Alderman Amanda Grehan, LCCC Alliance group leader, commented: “After no increase last year, inflation climbing towards 6% and waste management fees up over £1 million, we agreed a budget asking homeowners for an extra 1.49% which for a property with a capital valuation of £180,000 works out at £1.73 a month.

“To keep Lisburn & Castlereagh the lowest area for rates in Northern Ireland, deliver value for money and invest in your services, Alliance worked hard with other parties to reach the best deal possible while the DUP were asleep at the wheel.”

Hitting out at the DUP, she continued: “Out of ideas and sinking fast, the DUP’s last minute ‘smash and grab’ raid on the piggy bank was always a non-starter because it meant funding important local services from emergency reserves.

“The DUP’s disastrous role in Brexit and at Stormont now without a First Minister has only made life tougher for families across Lisburn & Castlereagh. Alliance couldn’t support their ‘get less now, pay more later’ plan. The DUP’s sums just don’t add up.”

Household and business rates consist of a regional rate which is set by central government and a district rate which is set by the council. The regional rate has not been set at this time.

READ MORE: Rates in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area are to rise by almost 2% this year.