05/02/2019

Belfast Councillors Vote To Increase Rates

Belfast councillors have voted to increase rates for the incoming financial year.

Residents will pay an average of 62p extra per month when the 1.98% rise is implemented across the district.

It was approved at a meeting on Monday 04 February.

Offices and retail rates will rise by an average of £11.51 a month, around £138 a year.

A council statement said the increase was lower than inflation and was achieved by ongoing efficiencies of £30 million.

But the Alliance Party, which favoured a new rate of 1.67%, has criticised the move.

Councillor for north Belfast, Nuala McAllister, said the "unnecessary" spending of £500,000 on festivals to reduce tensions around bonfires had contributed to the increase.
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"Alliance has been strong in our condemnation of a plan that, simply put, will improve the life of some in our city at the expense of others," she said.

"We are extremely disappointed that this rate has gone ahead unaltered, especially as we consistently proposed a more realistic rate of 1.67%, and we will be watching to see just how well this additional money is spent and if it really can make a difference later this year."

The former Mayor of Belfast also accused accused Sinn Fein and the DUP of unfairly prioritising their own agendas.

UUP councillor Peter Johnston, who chairs the strategic policy and resources committee, defended the decision: "We have worked hard to drive efficiencies across council to ensure that any increase in the rates is kept to a minimum, and the fact that we are keeping the increase below 2% for the second consecutive year reflects that commitment."



(JG/CM)

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