Causeway Coast and Glens Council is the latest body to feel the impact of the DUP/Sinn Fein failure to establish government at Stormont according to the UUP’s Cllr Richard Holmes.
“The lack of agreement at Stormont between the DUP and Sinn Fein is and will continue to have an impact on the lives of ordinary people the longer they continue to lock horns.
“Whilst Arlene and Michelle sit on their hands in Stormont comparing the size of their mandate, council’s are seeing their Rates Support Grants (RSG) cut. This is having a real impact on households and council services.
“The jungle like state of our hedgerows and pavements are a stark reminder of the DUP/SF government’s failure to even keep the grass cut. Do we need to see rat infested rubbish piled up in the streets before they will address the real needs of this country?
“The impact of the 4% cut in the RSG adversely affects the less wealthy councils in the north and west. Perhaps we’re just too remote for Stormont to care. Or perhaps RSG is not as exciting as an Irish Language Act. It certainly isn’t as costly.
“Previously the affected councils were able to successfully lobby local ministers to stop the reductions in the RSG. But with government now in limbo, Council Officers are left trying to find someone in government to talk to who can help. Is there anybody listening? The DUP and Sinn Fein don’t seem to be.
“NI and its ratepayers are being held to ransom by DUP/Sinn Fein, negatively impacting on the least well off in our society, who are dependent on the services they receive locally, be it by their local council or other government agencies.
“The ongoing threat to the RSG will leave councils with difficult decisions in the future. The options will be to raise rates – effecting high streets already negatively impacted by the move to internet shopping, business and households. The alternative is to cut services or investment plans. Will we as a council be able to afford to replace the aging Coleraine Leisure Centre or develop much needed leisure facilities in Ballycastle?
“This issue raised at Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Tuesday 25th July brings home the impact deadlock at Stormont is having and will continue to have on ordinary decent citizens. Councils have to make these choices. We don’t have the option of suspension and direct rule ministers to take the blame when the going gets to tough.”