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Holmes challenges Councillors to ‘stand up for ratepayers’

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UUP Councillor Richard Holmes has challenged the DUP and others on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to stand up for the ratepayers of the Borough and deliver efficiencies after striking the rate for next year.

Councillor Richard Holmes said:

“The reorganisation of local government in 2014 presented a perfect opportunity to create more efficient and effective Councils. In fact, it was sold by the DUP and the NI Executive as a means of doing business more effectively. The fact of the matter is, however, that the new Council structure costs more than the previous four Council structure. This was never the intention of local government reform – which placed the ratepayer at the heart of local government. We are therefore failing to deliver on these promises.

“The UUP has outlined a number of areas where savings could be secured, therefore proposing a cut to the rate, hence unburdening the ratepayer. Yet other parties failed to grasp the significant issues facing the Council as we look to the future. The failure to build on the promises of local government reform will have serious repercussions for ratepayers down the line, as how we do business is unsustainable in the long run.

“Whilst a rates freeze is welcome, we are failing to generate income through other means and cut costs sufficiently. My party have outlined key areas of concern which effect the rates by up to 4% – and we haven’t even started to look at the potential of ensuring savings in energy, through procurement or in better route planning for Council vehicles. Our town halls and community centres overall cost £752k per year, to run, and attempts to rationalise were recently blocked in Council. This is not good enough.

“Council exists to provide services; however, that does not mean that we have to provide services in an inefficient manner. We rely on the private sector to pay for government and if we continue to burden our private sector we will have fewer businesses left on which to levy our rates, never mind fewer jobs.

“Whilst we are disappointed that our efforts to cut the rates burden has been thwarted yet again, we are hopeful that the positive comments from other Councillors about the UUP proposals will lead to much needed analysis and debate about the future direction of Council.”

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