BANBRIDGE District Council have issued the following statement on their rates rise:
“Following a detailed review at the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, Councillors agreed to differ on the prospective rate increase with a minority favouring a 0% increase and the majority going for a below inflation rise of 2.2%.
“Combined with the Regional Rate of 2.7% set by the Northern Ireland Assembly this would equate to £20 per anum or 38p per week on the average household rate bill of £800.
“Reflecting on the differing views held, Committee Chairman Glenn Barr stated, “There has been a series of very useful discussions on the priorities facing local government as we move through a deep economic recession and towards a merger with our neighbours in Armagh and Craigavon Councils.
“Some members felt we should have no increase which would require a cut in services. Others felt that now was the time to press ahead with developments before we merge into a larger ‘Super Council’.
“In the end, by judicial application of Council reserves, we have ensured a balance between economic pressures, maintaining valued Council services and preparing for local government reorganisation.”
Council Chairman Junior McCrum recognised the real concerns of businesses under financial constraint raised by his colleagues and commented, “The Council will be pressing to ensure that the re-evaluation exercise scheduled for 2015 provides for a redistribution of the business rate burden to alleviate the financial pressures faced by town traders.
“Clearly the Council setting a District Rate below inflation plays an important role in not increasing those pressures in the short term.”