Councillors from the DUP & UUP have voted in favour of a 5% reduction to the money allocated by council to the grant programmes for 2020/21.
The vote took place during Tuesdays (3rd December) full council meeting as councillors attempt to cut costs , after it was recently revealed that Causeway Coast and Glens council had an overspend of £3.9m. The decision was carried by a majority of 3 votes.
This 5% reduction will save council around £21,000 compared to its currents spend for these grant programmes.
Speaking on behalf of the SDLP, Councillor Ashleen McGettigan Schenning said her party was ‘strongly opposed’ to the cuts.
Going on the Councillor said;
“Totally disgusted tonight as Causeway coast and Glens council voted for 5% reduction to the revenue allocation from council funding contribution to the annual grants programme 20-21.
“It was hoped there would be a change of heart at full council. This was not the case.”
Many voluntary and community groups rely on these funding streams to support various programmes or events during the year.
BUT this news could now come as a blow to many already finding it difficult to support projects financially, with one concerned community representative telling us that events could be ‘cancelled’ as ‘costs can’t be covered’.
The Ballymoney Bubble asked a representative from both the DUP & UUP for comment.
Councillor John McAuley from the DUP said;
“Councillors are and will continue to be required to make difficult decisions in order to balance the councils income and expenditure without taking the easy option of placing the whole burden onto the ratepayers.
“This was not a decision taken lightly by the DUP group on the council and It is unfortunate that some parties have decided to use it as an opportunity for electioneering.”
At the time of publishing, the UUP has yet to issue a reply.
UPDATE 8.12am 04/11/19
Cllr Richard Holmes from the UUP has now since responded to comments from the SDLP, saying;
“Given the difficult financial conditions the council is facing we have to make tough choices across a whole range of activities. But we must ensure we continue to deliver the basic services such as bin collections and licensing etc.
“The way we were attempting to spend money in council last night at the behest of SDLP and Sinn Fein made me wonder if Council had won the Euromillions.
“Whilst we made a small cut to grant programmes, SDLP and Sinn Fein wanted to restore a £750,000 community capital grant fund whilst council projects such as play parks for special needs children languish on the drawing board. This fund could cost council £90,000 per year for 10 years.
“It would be easy to say that the proposals by SDLP and Sunn Fein were merely to chase cheap headlines in an election campaign but given the sums of money involved in the headlines were anything but cheap.”