Gaston hits out at rates increase

Timothy Gaston.
Timothy Gaston.

TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston has claimed that “there is no appetite to make savings” by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Speaking after last week’s special meeting of council at which the district rate was struck, Cllr. Gaston said: “At the meeting I said that these last 12 months have been challenging for the borough - we have had job losses, business closures and a political impasse which hasn’t helped.

“This council needs to adapt to these changes and make significant reductions in our expenditure.”

Cllr. Gaston said he was disappointed that when councillors were provided with scenarios to make cuts which would “impact them rather than the ordinary ratepayers there is no appetite to make savings”.

He added: “We need to work smarter, create an agile workforce and make tough decisions as councillors.

“For TUV our [council’s] debt is a real concern. In 2015 the three legacy councils had a debt of £67m. In 2017 we were able to reduce that debt to £63m and now we have a projected debt of £73m.”

Cllr. Gaston said he believed council could go further than they had in their rates deductions and that was why he put forward at counter proposal for a rate increase of 1.04%, which was subsequently rejected.