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Friday, August 12, 2022

McShane: ‘Council was saved by a global pandemic’ as council reduces debt according to latest accounts

The latest set of accounts for the Causeway Coast & Glens council has revealed that the organisation’s debt has been reduced by £5.4m.

At the special council meeting on Monday evening, where the 2020/21 annual statement of accounts were accepted, councillors were also informed that Causeway Council had moved from the no1 most indebted council in Northern Ireland, to no7.

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Councillors further heard that there was an £8.6m surplus in these latest sets of accounts.

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However, following the presentation of the year end Accounts Glens Independent Councillor Padraig McShane said “It is clear that this Council was saved by a global pandemic. What’s more embarrassing is the debt analysis.

“The Council was gifted multi-millions to pay furloughed staff among other grants. They had just struck the rates when the worst accesses of the pandemic set in and the greatest stroke of luck saved those who had wreaked havoc on the accounts of Causeway Coast and Glens. Multi-millions poured into the coffers of Causeway Coast and Glens while the ratepayers had already been charged in the rate setting process for staff costs. The question is automatically, why is there not more multi-millions in the reserves now.

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“I am unsure if any other Council would backslap and congratulate themselves to the degree Causeway Coast And Glens did at the last Audit Committee and here tonight during the presentation of year-end accounts.

“Perhaps no one was aware of the four key Priority 1 findings in the Audit report? There should be no priority 1 findings yet we are so used to numerous failings and repeat findings of this nature in our Audit that it has become meaningless to members. It’s embarrassing.”

Accounts also revealed that Chief Executive David Jacksons salary dropped from the £115-120,000 range in 2019/20 to £110-115,000 in 2020/21 – however the exact amount was not specified.

Commenting on the Statement of Accounts, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes said: “This is an excellent result for Council against the backdrop of unprecedented social and economic uncertainty created by the pandemic. For another consecutive year we have received a sound and clean audit opinion from the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) which reinforces the benefits of financial controls implemented across the organisation.

“It should be noted that this has occurred during a period where Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has delivered one of the lowest cumulative rates increases in Northern Ireland, all the while reducing loans by £5.4million. We owe a debt of gratitude to our staff and leadership team who have delivered a sound financial performance in challenging circumstances. The Finance Committee have noted this turnaround in Council’s fortunes

“Our ratepayers should be reassured by our current financial position which demonstrates that we are committed to building an efficient organization which delivers effective services across the Borough.”

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