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Arrogant’ rates bill

A leading Newry businessman has described Newry and Mourne Council as “arrogant” after it was confirmed that the cost of rates will increase. Hill Street trader Declan McChesney said: “It is absolute folly on behalf of the council top impose any increase in rates. I know that in numerical terms it’s a relatively small rise but it is more money drained from an already dry river. This is arrogance as always from the council and I must say and I must say I am absolutely appalled that they seem to have no understanding of business,” added Mr McChesney who owns Cahill Brothers on Hill Street. However the decision to increase the costs of rates was “appropriate and realistic” according to Mayor John McArdle who congratulated councillors and council officials on agreeing to a 1.3 per cent increase in rates for 2013 / 2014 last night. “I am pleased that Newry and Mourne District Council have continually achieved their objective of striking a rate which is appropriate and realistic,” he said. The increase was raised at yesterday’s council meeting and will put an additional 42p on the average weekly bill. A council spokeswoman said the increase was the only way to ensure the council could continue to deliver on a number of key regeneration schemes in the area. “At the council meeting on Monday  February 11 Newry and Mourne District Council struck its rate to meet the costs of services it provides,” she said. “They agreed to a 1.3 per cent increase in the district rate. This means that households face an increase of 2.0 per cent in their overall rates bill (assuming Regional rate increases by 2.7 per cent) – an average of 4.2 pence or £21.77 per annum on a property with a capital rate value of £100,000. “During 2012/2013 the council continued to deliver a programme of capital developments throughout the district. These included a number of schemes such as the completion of Phase 1 of the Regeneration Public Realm Scheme at Hill Street and Monaghan Street and commencement of a new £9m  swimming pool at Rooney’s Meadow. “In addition to its existing programme  of events the Council will facilitate the World Police and Fire Games in Kilbroney Park and the international Curraagh Championships at Warrenpoint Foreshore in August. The Council will continue to fund community initiatives through its voluntary contribution scheme. The gross budget of £1,229,402 which includes economic development, covers a diverse range of schemes and projects and acts as a catalyst to deliver substantial funds for community sectors. The breakdown of the Council’s rates is available on the Council website www.newryandmourne.gov.uk. Sinn Fein group leader Mickey Ruane said that while the rates increase was not ideal it was the best that could have be realistically hoped for. “Our aim was to achieve a 0 per cent increase in rates without affecting the services we provide to the general public,” he said. “By the end of the process we were on our sixth draft. Our rate for the year ahead will be an increase of 1.3 per cent. This was the lowest figure we could achieve without affecting essential services that the council provides to members of the public . The council are involved in a number of major projects such as the new sports centre and the KIlbroney Park mountain bike trails. The new sports centre will be the biggest project the council has ever undertaken and is a project that all councillors have committed to. Both Newry and Mourne councillors and officials need to be commended for being able to strike the rate as low as it for this year, given the major projects that are due to start.. However not everyone is in agreement. In a further rejection of Mayor John McArdle’s assertion Hill Street businessman Declan McChesney described the rise as “inappropriate and unrealistic.”


Newry Democrat

12th February 2013