Ballymena rates to rise by 1.98 per cent

Deputy Mayor DUP councillor Cheryl Johnston.
Deputy Mayor DUP councillor Cheryl Johnston.

Mid and East Antrim Council has said that “sweeping efficiency savings” have resulted in a 1.98 per cent rates increase for the borough’s ratepayers.

Following a special meeting of council on Wednesday night, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed a district rate increase of 1.98 per cent - which council says is approximately one per cent less than last year’s level of rate increase, and that this was despite the loss of substantial rates income from the recent announcement of the closure of production facilities at Ballylumford.

Council’s portion of the rates amounts to 45 per cent of the rates bills received by residents and businesses in Mid and East Antrim, with the remainder set by the Northern Ireland Office in the absence of a Stormont Executive.

The 1.98% increase represents an increase of 17 pence per week for the average household in Mid and East Antrim (72 pence per week when an assumed regional rate increase of six per cent is included) and an average increase of £2.18 per week for businesses (£9.56 per week for businesses when the assumed regional rate increase of six per cent is included).

Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, said the striking of a district rate in line with inflation was achieved due to the prudent financial management over several years by council’s elected members and senior management team.

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s approach is always to strike a fair balance between keeping rates as low as possible, with securing existing and attracting new jobs, boosting inward investment and promoting tourism and other key priorities across the borough,” Cllr. Johnston said.

She added: “This is in addition to money council has also already secured for the next 10 years, at no additional unplanned cost to the ratepayer, and this includes work on St Patrick’s Barracks development, The Gobbins phase two, Carrickfergus town centre regeneration, and rollout of broadband services in Carrickfergus and Ballymena.

“At last week’s meeting of full council, we were also told of more than £1m from the Rates Support Grant, which will also be used for investment locally.

“We continue to identify opportunities to significantly drive growth and investment in our borough and Northern Ireland and, along with elected members and citizens, look forward to embracing and capitalising on the opportunities ahead.”

Councillor Robert Logan, who proposed the adoption of the rate, added: “The challenging economic climate and its impact on citizens and businesses has been at the heart of Council’s decision-making on deciding this year’s rates level.

“Our council is committed to doing everything we can to support local businesses to grow, and to encourage investment in the borough.

“We are also using our assets to continue to improve the rate base of Mid and East Antrim.

“In order to deliver a balanced rates process, we have also reviewed our Business Improvement and Efficiency Strategy to ensure that we minimise any impact on the ratepayer going forward in order to keep the rate as low as possible.”