Following tonights Council meeting where a rate increase of 7.65% was eventually struck, despite the meeting being rescheduled twice, UUP Councillor Holmes has spoke out about ‘difficult’ rate process.
Cllr Holmes along with his other party colleagues, the DUP and Alliance, voted in favour of the 7.65% rate increase.
The Ulster Unionist Deputy Group Leader Richard Holmes said:
“This has been one of the most difficult rates setting processes we have been through. It has been undermined at every stage by misinformation and even false accusations from some quarters.
“Much work has been concluded across a range of Parties which has delivered a rates freeze for businesses and a 7.65% rise on the domestic rate.
“Tough decisions have had to be taken to reduce costs and raise additional income which we know will not be popular. But we must ensure council services continue to be delivered.
“Causeway Coast and Glens has significant debt of £69m but is by no means the most indebted council in Northern Ireland. Reserves are within guidelines and even after this significant rates increase we still have one of the lowest rates increases since the 2015 council amalgamation across Northern Ireland.
“The scare stories put out by some have severely tarnished the Borough and it has been a difficult process for staff working under such conditions. Some Councillors have called for the Department to be called in to strike the rate which is a gross dereliction of duty by those elected to represent the public.
“The Ulster Unionist Party firmly believe that more work could and should have been done to reduce the operating costs of council but there has been an unwillingness to look at reducing these costs.
“Given these circumstances, this is the best result that could be achieved. The rates freeze for businesses will ensure our high streets and businesses are not hurt further, with many suffering the effects of revaluation.
“It is now for councillors to ensure the promised efficiencies are delivered and that costs are brought under further control in the year ahead.”