Published Friday, 11 January 2013
Shoppers waiting at a bus stop in Belfast watch riot police march by. (© Getty)
Sinn Féin said it is the first time in living memory that a zero increase in the striking of the rate has been managed by BCC.
It comes after local businesses lost out during the busy Christmas period and beyond due to protests over the council's decision to only fly the Union flag at City Hall on designated days.
The Confederation of British Industry estimated the total cost to the city at up to £15m.
A motion to cut rates by 2% was put forward by the DUP but defeated by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance Party.
Lee Reynolds of the DUP said: "The DUP believes that such a cut is achievable while ring fencing for protection key areas such as community services and economic development.
"It offered to work with the other parties over the next two weeks to reach an all-party agreement but this was rejected by Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Féin.
"The DUP also considers it ridiculous that after a City Council decision has set good relations in the city back years that they propose no increase in the Good Relations budget. Now is the time for clear and prompt action not offering people what you were planning to do anyway."
Meanwhile the freeze has been welcomed by Sinn Féin.
Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: "This is the first time in living memory that we have managed to have a zero increase in the striking of the rate and is testament to prudent planning and crucial efficiency savings by our Council management and staff.
"The alternative by unionists to introduce a new cuts programme and abandon investment projects would result in job losses, dent confidence in our city and deepen the economic crisis. Putting hundreds of council workers on the dole is the last thing we should be doing if we want to help our city through this recession.
"Unionists proposed to committee a 'cuts programme' which would be disastrous for Belfast. This is a time to invest in the future not to slash and burn."